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MEMOIRS 

OF THE 

EMPRESS EUGENIE 


VOLUME I 






MEMOIRS OF THE 
EMPRESS EUGENIE 

BY COMTE FLEURY ^ rlr »|r 


Compiled from Statements, Private Documents and 
Personal Letters of the Empress Euqenie ip ^ iP 
From Conversations of the Emperor Napoleon III 
AND FROM Family Letters and Papers ofGeneralFleury, 
M. Franceschini Pietri, Prince Victor Napoleon and 
Other Members of the Court of the Second Empire 


*'The documents and conversations contained in th 
two volumes are, to my best knowledge, authentic. 



VOLUME I 


D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 
NEW YORK : LONDON : MCMXX 


COPTBIQHT, 1920, BT 

D* APPLETON AND COMPANY 


of translation ressrvod 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME 1 


CHAPTSK PAGE 

I. Family, Childhood, and Mabriagb 1 

II. The Coup B’Etat 20 

III. Princess Mathilde 59 

IV. The Birth and Christening op the Prince Imperial . 81 

V. The Youth op the Prince Imperial 102 

VI. The Prince Imperial’s Baptism OP Fire’’ . . , 121 

VII, The Death op the Prince Imperial . . . . 145 

VIII. Imperial and Eotal Visits .... , . 174 

IX. German and Russian Royal Visitors .... 199 

X. Some Official Journeys 233 

XI. Visits to Germany and Egypt 260 

XII. Court Life During the Second Empire .... 301 

XIII. Court Entertainments 337 

XIV. The Official Household 359 

XV, Episodes in the Emperor’s Life 393 

XVI. The Death of Napoleon III 430 

XVII. Recollection and Retrospection 442 




CHAPTER I 


FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAEBIAGB 

The House of Guzman, one of the most distin- 
guished of Spain, goes hack to the first years of the 
Spanish monarchy. Amongst its celebrities it 
counts the famous Alonzo Perez de Guzman who, 
while Governor of Tarifa in 1291, allowed the be- 
sieging Moors to cut off his son’s head rather than 
surrender the citadel. Hence the motto of the 
house: “Mas pesa el rey que la sangre” (The 
King is more than blood). Besides the family of 
Montijo, those of Medina Coeli, Medina Sidonia, 
Las Torres and Olivares are branches of the Guz- 
man house. Gaspard de Guzman, Count-Duke of 
Olivares, was an all-powerful minister under 
Philip IV. 

Royal blood also runs in the veins of the family; 
the Empress Eugenie was the grand-niece of Al- 
phonse X, King of Leon and of Castille. Moreover, 
she was not the first of her race to rise to a throne. 
In the 17th century. Dona Luiza Prancisca de Guz- 
man, daughter of the Duke of Medina Sidonia, mar- 
ried the Duke of Braganza who became king of 
Portugal under the title of John IV, and ruled from 
1640 to 1656. The Counts of Monti jo are also con- 
nected with the family of Aounha of which two 

1 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

brandies, Spanish and Portuguese, played an im- 
portant part in the peninsular history in the 16th 
century. I mention these facts to show that Napo- 
leon III did not marry “beneath him” as some of 
his unreasonable critics have said. Some very fool- 
ish and groundless statements have been made to 
this effect. I simply wish to controvert them. 

The family of Porto-Carrero, Counts of Montijo, 
includes the Cardinal of that name, who played a 
part during the reign of Charles 11 of Austria and 
descends in direct line from the ancient patrician 
family that in 1339 gave the city of Genoa its first 
Doge. Dona Maria Francisea de Porto Carrero, 
Countess of Montijo, writer of repute, who was pros- 
ecuted on the charge of turning her house into a 
Jansenist meeting place, was one of the Empress’ 
ancestors and lived in the beginning of the 19th cen- 
tury. She was the correspondent of the Marquise 
de Lage de Volude, former lady in waiting to the 
Princesse de LambaEe, and at one time, during the 
Eeign of Terror, was a refugee in Spain. Sover- 
eigns, statesmen, soldiers, churchmen, are conse- 
quently found among the Empress’ ancestors. And 
perhaps I may, in passing, add here that her sis- 
ter married the Duke of Alba and Berwick, who was 
lineally descended from James II, king of England. 

Her father, Don Cipriano Guzman Palafox y 
Porto-Carrero, Count of Teba, was the youngest 
brother of Eugenio, Count of Montijo, who, in the 
beginning of the last century, was associated with 
.every liberal and even revolutionary movement in 
Spain. His family claims that his name stands 
out prominently in the efforts made to combat the 
stupid tyranny of Ferdinand VII’s government. He 

2 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MARRIAGE 

Lad the audacity of old-time conspirators and the 
perseverance of modern revolutionists. With a 
small band of resolute men, he penetrated into the 
Aranjuez palace and for a few hours held in his 
power the King, Queen and the favourite Godoy. 
But the people did not second him and the con- 
spiracy failed, and Eugenio de Montijo was pro- 
nounced a madman by those who did not dare to 
profit by his bold act made in the interest of good 
government. 

Cipriano fought with distinction in Napoleon’s 
arnaies. Attached to the cause of King Joseph, he 
was conspicuous during the murderous struggle in 
Spain and was several times wounded. In 1814, 
he had risen to become colonel of artillery and was 
stationed by the Emperor at the fortifications of 
Paris then threatened by the Allies, where he was 
at the head of the students of the Polytechnic School 
defending the Buttes Chaumont. In fact, owing to 
the part he played in the wars of the Empire, he was 
prosecuted and imprisoned by order of Ferdinand 
VII, after the fall of Napoleon. Later, he was one 
of the first grandees of Spain called to the Senate. 
In a word, the Empress’ father was a man of liberal 
views, energy and cultured tastes, who was ever 
ready to render service to others. 

After the French revolution of 1830, Comte and 
Comtesse de Teba went and settled in Paris, where 
they became intimate with many leading families in 
Parisian society, especially the Delesserts and La- 
bordes whom the Empress’ parents’ old friend 
Prosper Merimee had known since his childhood. 
Some of these friendships, begun in Spain, were 

3 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


now destined to become more and more intimate as 
the families met almost daily. 

Don Eugenio died in 1834, and his brother, Don, 
Cipriano, inherited the property and titles of the 
Montijo house. But this veteran of the wars of the 
Empire was not greatly influenced by the change of 
fortune and he had no intention whatever of alter- 
ing his simple and retired mode of life. Deeply im- 
bued with liberal and thoroughly modern ideas, as 
I have already said, he repudiated the customs of an 
ancient caste and wished his daughters to receive 
an education far superior to that which women of 
society then possessed ; he would have liked even to 
see them brought up as though they were poor. “Let 
them be toughened by privation and sufferings,” 
was his constant remark. 

The character and ideas of the Empress’ mother 
were far different. She made no objections concern- 
ing the nature of the instruction of her daughters, 
being herself possessed of much culture and a wide 
and varied range of knowledge. She was a woman 
of marked energy, vitality and activity, with an ear- 
nest desire to push forward, which neither old age 
nor blindness could slacken, and she was anxious to 
give a free rein to qualities which she felt might be 
useful to her relatives as much as to herself. 
"Wherever she was, she always gathered around her 
a body of superior men, whom she did not merely 
seek to “bind to her chariot wheels,” to “rivet to 
her fate” as a literary friend has remarked. She 
admired for their own sake those whom she had 
chosen as friends. She was most useful to Merimee, 
whom she had initiated, ,at the time of his first 
journey to Spain, into the complex affairs of that 

4 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAREIAGE 

country. It was site who related to him, later on, the 
anecdote from which he drew Carmen; and, later 
still, she suggested to the traveler, lover of art and 
of historical reconstitutions, the idea of a new Don 
Pedro, king of Castille, on whose memory weigh a 
number of timely ‘ ‘ suppressions ’ ’ including those of 
some relations and of Eleonora de Guzman, who had 
been his father’s mistress. To help Merimee in his 
eager search for authentic documents, she stirred 
into activity legions of archivists and librarians, 
awoke benumbed energies, and shook the dust from 
annals which had lain imheeded during long cen- 
turies. Influencing both his mind and heart, she 
whispered into the ear of her friend a historical 
theory of her own about Don Pedro, which Merimee 
practically adopted and skillfully turned into a com- 
plete system of his own. 

The Empress’ mother recognized and admitted 
the merits of the ideas advocated by the French doc- 
trinaries and liberals who then shared with the ‘ ‘ dis- 
cussing gentry” the favors of Louis Philippe’s 
reign; but all her affection went out to some “tyrant 
of genius” who would lead the people toward good- 
ness and happiness without bothering them with the 
means he employed to accomplish this beneficent 
end. It is certain that the great Napoleon was her 
ideal. In the family to which she belonged, one was 
born a Bonapartist and one remained so till death. 
Some years later, she learned that a certain Prince, 
twenty years of age, bearing the name of Bonaparte, 
was in Madrid. She managed to meet him and to 
study him with most minute care. Handsome, fas- 
cinating, witty, he was surely a Bonaparte, but he 
was not the Bonaparte for whom she declared that 

5 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Europe was ever waiting. In fact, but little per- 
suasion would have been necessary to induce ber to 
visit another Bonaparte then prisoner at Ham. 

In Paris, the Empress’ mother led a retired, intel- 
lectual life. Merimee introduced to her several 
authors, especially Henri Beyle, (“Stendhal”) his 
great friend, who, though twenty years older than 
himself, exercised such a strong influence over him. 
Beyle found charmed admirers in the little daugh- 
ters of Comtesse de Montijo and came with pleasure 
to a house where his stories were greatly enjoyed. 
These were red-letter evenings for the children 
of the family. They looked forward to them with 
impatience, because they were put to bed a little 
later on those occasions. And then, his stories 
amused them so much ! 

Apropos of these visits, Merimee once wrote the 
Empress’ mother as follows, and afterwards, incor- 
porated almost these very same words in one of his 
volumes : ‘ ‘ One can picture the two children sitting 
on Beyle’s knees or close by his side, on low chairs 
listening with attentive ear, parted lips and eyes 
wide-open as though looking on some strange vision, 
while he, the singer of the great deeds of the past, 
gave fresh color and animation to those tales of 
lives that were spent long since, letting drop one by 
one from his lips, as from a string of pearls, the epi- 
sodes of that prodigious drama which he had wit- 
nessed or in which he had even played a minor part. 
One can imagine, if one reads in ‘The Carthusian 
Nun of Parma,’ the chapter devoted to Waterloo, 
how picturesque must have been those descriptions, 
filled as they were with suggestive details, stamped 
with that sincerity of feeling, that intimate toowledge 

6 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MABEIAOE 

of the living and the lived which makes the charm of 
Stendhal’s creations. Thus the little girls, already 
prepared by their father’s reminiscences, early 
learned a deep reverence for the Empire, and 
gathered from the mouth of this unequaled story 
teller, a truer, more striking Napoleon than the 
legendary one. In order that the memory of the 
children should retain these dazzling delineations of 
‘the man in the little cocked hat and gray coat,’ and, 
their imagination fed, that their eyes also should be 
interested, Beyle completed his stories by pictures.” 
The Empress Eugenie long had a Battle of Auster- 
litz given to her and drawn by him. 

It is a new Stendhal whom we thus meet, a Stend- 
hal who, in order to be understood by his “little 
pupils” was willing to become a mere “story 
teller,” he who, according to Merimee’s own admis- 
sion, took a malicious pleasure in appearing in the 
eyes of the public as “a monster of immorality.” 
Here, on the contrary, we find a Stendhal who, put- 
ting aside all pride and love of domineering, deigned 
to be simplicity itself. “He felt that his words were 
listened to with admiration and fervor,” continues 
Merimee, “and to his satisfied vanity, nothing was 
more agreeable than the eager attention shown in 
those pretty eyes of the two little girls.” “When 
you are grown up,” he would say to the future 
Empress, “you will marry the Marquis of Santa 
Cruz,” — he pronounced the word with a comical 
emphasis which I can never forget — “and you will 
forget me and I will no longer care about you.” 

Merimee, too, would tell tales, but tales that were 
less warlike than those of Stendhal. He really liked 
to entertain the children when they were sometimes 

7 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


entrusted to his care, for, in his own way, Merimee 
was fond of children. I recall how, when he congrat- 
ulated his friend Stapfer on the birth of a daughter, 
he remarked that he could fully realize the joys of 
fatherhood, for he well remembered the pleasure he 
had himself tasted in past days when bringing up 
kittens! He added quaintly, that “kittens lose much 
of their attractiveness as they become full-grown 
cats, whereas human kittens, especially she ones, 
gain in this respect as they grow older.” 

So Merimee was always quite ready to amuse “la 
petite Eugenie,” as the future Empress was then 
called. He would often take her out for a walk, would 
show her the sights of Paris and they would wind 
up by dropping in at the pastry-cook’s. “I am inter- 
ested by her chatter,” he would say. Often, too, he 
corrected her French exercises, and he even gave 
her some writing lessons. No wonder then that 
Eugenie always retained for this friend of her child- 
hood a warm remembrance which never faded. She 
always enjoyed talking about him, and continued to 
call him ceremoniously, as in her childhood days, 
“Monsieur Merimee.” Memories of Compiegne, of 
Saint Cloud, of Biarritz, cluster also round his 
name. As the scholarly inspector of historical monu- 
ments he contributed in no small degree to strength- 
ening Eugenie’s taste for studies of the past, just as 
Beyle had been her Napoleonic educator. It was 
only natural for the Empress to remain faithful to 
the memory of these her first intellectual teachers. 
On one point alone did she fail to show herself an 
apt pupil ; impiety never had any attraction for her. 
But I ought to add, that they omitted to instruct her 
in that branch ! 


8 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAEEIAGE 

Merimee really became much attached to the chil- 
dren, and when they left Paris in 1839 to join their 
mother, called home in haste to her husband who 
was dangerously ill at Madrid, the “dear French 
friend,” as this family always called him, was in- 
deed very sorry. For a short period the girls re- 
mained alone in Paris with their governess, when 
Merimee devoted as much time to them as he could 
spare. One of them having treated the excellent 
Miss Flower in a somewhat rude manner, they were 
taken to task, I was told, and Merimee preached a 
lay-sermon to both of them which had a good effect 
and the echo of which they carried to their friend 
Cecile Delessert, who always enjoyed all they told 
her about the good French author. “You would not 
believe,” he wrote at that time, “what grief I feel 
to see the children go.” 

There is a picture representing them at the ages of 
thirteen and fourteen with gowns in plaits at the 
back and a bit of embroidered drawers showing 
beneath the skirt. “What will these two children be 
like when I meet them next?” he wrote their mother 
in a letter of which they were the bearers. “Will 
they be tall young girls, coquettish, scornful or pas- 
sionate, with no feeling for their old pedagogue? 
Will they, adulated and flattered in the dazzling 
days of their spring-tide, turn from the man already 
approaching the forties, whose hair is even now 
streaked with gray? These, and many other ques- 
tions, have flashed through my mind and that of 
Beyle, who is, I must add, skeptical in regard to all 
things except women. This is why, in spite of the 
armor of indifference with which I like to clothe 
myself, I, now that my little friends are leaving me, 

9 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


give way to a feeling, wMch, thongli fraught with a 
good deal of melancholy, yet, I must confess, con- 
tains a dash of vague hopefulness.” At the last 
moment, he nearly started with them. The girls 
and Miss Flower promised to write him. So he im- 
mediately penned a note to their mother in which he 
said: “Out of all this, there will at least come a 
letter.” And that is just what did happen. At 
Oloron, in the Pyrenees, where the travelers had to 
stop on account of the bad weather, Eugenie sent 
him what she called “a fine letter,” and one which 
her old friend kept for a long time. He used even 
sometimes to show this letter discreetly when the 
author of it had become Empress of the French 1 

Merimee wrote regularly to Eugenie’s mother. 
He followed Spanish politics with great interest 
although he early abandoned the hope of under- 
standing them. He was glad to learn that his cor- 
respondent, a partisan of Narvaez, had been made 
mistress of the robes. "Writing to his friend, October 
22, 1847, he said: “So you are really camarera 
mayor, and you are pleased. That is enough to 
make me pleased also. You can do good in that post, 
and that is a sufficient reason why you should accept 
it. "Whatever you may say to the contrary, you are 
made for fight, and it would be ridiculous to wish 
Caesar to lead the tranquil life of the Second Citizen 
of Rome. I may tell you that I have already re- 
ceived much flattery on your account, and I expect 
on the first occasion to have petitions presented to 
me which are really meant for you! Ehowing my 
temper, you can readily guess what use I shall make 
of them.” 

Merimee was not at ease concerning his friend’s 

10 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAEEIAGE 

safety, and was alarmed to hear that she went out 
in a phaeton alone with the sovereign — Queen Isa- 
bella — against whom a number of conspiracies were 
being hatched. But this anxiety was not to last long, 
for barely three months after her appointment, 
Eugenie’s mother abandoned of her own free will 
a post which she had accepted with delight, but the 
difficulties attending which she had not realized. 
Scarcely was she installed, when intrigues were set 
on foot to deprive the Grand Mistress of the Queen’s 
confidence ; the masters of Spain feared her intelli- 
gent energy and her growing infiuence. The future 
Empress’ mother preferred to abandon her func- 
tions rather than submit to any compromise. Her 
mind was quickly made up and she did not appear to 
regret her decision. 

In this connection, it may be of interest to give 
here this unpublished reflection of an intimate 
friend, valuable in spite of flattering phrases, 
here and there : ‘ ‘ The character and conduct of the 
mother is often reflected in the daughter, who, con- 
trary to the rule suggested by Galton, seemed to 
take after the female rather than the male parent. 
When the Empress Eugenie entered into the diffi- 
cult public life of the Court of the Second Empire, 
she had had much experience in this sort of exist- 
ence, both from hereditary instinct and from what 
she saw, heard and guessed during these early years 
in the palace circles of Madrid. It should also be 
home in mind in this connection that court life in 
Spain, especially in those stormy days, is surpassed 
by no other capital in Europe by its intrigues, its 
hidden influences and the general sharpening of the 
wits of all those who come within its precincts. If 

11 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


there was the material of a statesman in the 
Empress Eng^nie, she came with it naturally.” 

Freed from political worries, and from court 
intrigues and jealousies, the Countess Montijo 
quickly assumed an important position in Madrid 
society, while her invaluable friend in France cor- 
responded regularly with her and kept her informed 
of many inside political and diplomatic matters, 
which she sometimes utilized in her own salon. He 
even undertook to do all sorts of errands for them. 
Merimee had friends in the Foreign Office, and he 
took advantage of this fact to entrust to the “diplo- 
matic pouch” not only long letters, but also dahlia 
and pawlownia seeds, which he procured at the 
Garden of Plants for her gardener, and Chinese 
lanterns to decorate open-air fetes, according to the 
fashion set by Comtesse Duchatel. Nor did he 
scruple to send in this manner satin shoes for the 
young Duchesse d’Albe and costumes from Palmyra, 
the fashionable dressmaker of the day. This good 
friend even tried to forward, through the Foreign 
Office, a barouche; but at this, the good-nature of 
the minister rebelled. 

From Madrid, in turn, Merimee received fosforos, 
for he complained of being unable to find “in such 
a chemical town as Paris” any matches which suited 
him. He also was sent loaves of bread which he 
stated were much better than the French bread and 
which followed him from town to town when he was 
on official inspection tours. The Delessert ladies 
and their friends asked the Montijor to get them 
mantillas and Merimee was invited to the trying-on. 

A certain mantilla suited the Marquise Pasquier 
very well, and to see just how it should be put on, 

12 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAEEIAGE 

she carefully studied a pencil sketch by Merimee 
of “the second daughter of the Comtesse, la petite 
Eugenie,” he wrote. 

Merimee and the Countess Montijo did not confine 
this exchange of attentions wholly to frivolities. 
They also sent their friends to one another. The 
latter introduced to him Spanish politicians and 
grand ladies, while the former would recommend to 
her his literary friends and colleagues. Thus, to cite 
but one or two examples of this kind, Charles de 
Mazade, entrusted with a mission for Comte de Sal- 
vandy, member of the Academy and twice minister 
of public instruction under Louis Philippe, was very 
handsomely welcomed in Madrid at the house, and 
later, at Merimee ’s suggestion, she carefully read 
and revised the traveling notes published on his 
return to France, by the young writer. Prince 
Albert de Broglie, then attached to the French 
Embassy at Madrid, one of their frequent 
guests. When recommending him, Merimee re- 
minded the Countess of his “real obligations to the 
father of the young diplomat,” but chroniclers re- 
late that there was a complete misunderstanding be- 
tween Spain and the future academician. “He con- 
sidered the Spaniards very frivolous, and they con- 
sidered him too funereal,” the future Emperor once 
truly remarked. 

This interesting correspondence of Merimee with 
the Countess Montijo is the history of the comings 
and goings of diplomats, an account of political 
facts and a record of social incidents. It is the story 
of Parisian society life sent across the Pyrenees, by 
means of the pen of a clever man. This again, I may 
say, was an important element in the political edu- 

13 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

cation of the person destined to share the throne of 
a country whose men, women, manners and politics 
were thus being continually described in the Madrid 
home circle by such a talented brain and such an 
observant on-looker, as Prosper Merimee. Thanks 
largely to him, it could be said of Eugenie perhaps 
with some truth, when she married Napoleon HI; 
“Why, this young woman knows more about France 
and her people, her arts, her polities and her public 
men than many a youth who was born within our 
boundaries like his ancestors for several genera- 
tions.” 

Merimee ’s friendship with the family was of such 
old standing that not only was he the first to be 
informed of the proposed marriage, but he was even 
chosen as the fit person to give to the Emperor’s 
representative all the necessary information for the 
drafting of the marriage contract. There had been 
some thought of giving him the title of Chief Secre- 
tary; but that honor seemed inadequate, and it is, 
therefore, not to be wondered at that Merimee ’s 
nomination as Senator was one of the first favors 
the Empress asked of her husband. 

It has been asked in some quarters whether Meri- 
mee felt embarrassed by this honor to which, no 
doubt, he had certain claims by reason of the serv- 
ices he had rendered as inspector of historical monu- 
ments, but which he knew was due in great part to 
the friendly action of her whom he had known as a 
child. At any rate, he once made, in this connection, 
this statement to his friend Dr. Veron: “You know 
the whole story, as well as I do. Fate willed it, that, 
through sheer lack of something else to do, I went 
to Spain where I met some very good and amiable 

14 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAREIAGE 

people who gave me a hearty welcome. Among them 
was a little girl to whom I told tales, for whom I 
interceded when she did not know her lessons, and to 
whom later I preached gentle sermons with a moral, 
— for I am far from being over indulgent to youth. 
One day that little girl told me she was going to 
marry the Emperor. I begged her to make me swear 
never to ask any favor of her, and after a certain 
amount of discussion, she had me take such an oath 
in most solemn fashion. The Emperor, nevertheless, 
in response to her request, wished to give me a very 
fine position where there was much to do. I begged 
him to leave me with my monuments, where I had 
greater freedom. The Empress then said to me in 
Spanish: ‘You will be given something else, if you 
do not accept this, and you wiU be our enemy in the 
bargain.’ That is how I came to lose my liberty.” 

M4rimee was at his toilet one morning when he 
received the official announcement of his nomina- 
tion. It caused him some surprise and some embar- 
rassment. There was nothing odd in a Mterary and 
scientific man accepting a favor which he had never 
asked for. But he made the mistake of keeping 
secret a nomination which every one was sure to 
hear of through the Moniteur. It has been said that 
he spent the previous evening in a drawing-room 
hostile to the Empire, where he kept silent about the 
pending appointment, instead of openly meeting 
criticism, and that, on that same evening, he even 
spoke of the Emperor in terms which were worse 
than cold. Of course the Empress never inquired 
into all this political gossip and she remembered 
only the Merimee of her youth. Perhaps this nom- 
ination was very badly viewed in Orleanist circles, 

15 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


where Merimee usually moved. However, if he had 
been willing lo put up with some coldness and 
epigrams, he would probably not have lost any of 
the friendships which were dear to him. 

The Emperor has said on this point: “This is 
quite possible; but what is certain is that Merimee, 
at the time of his nomination, showed a hesitating 
attitude, largely due to his natural timidity. But, 
the matter once settled, he became brave again, and 
would not accept the period of penance which cer- 
tain drawing-rooms desired to subject him to, as a 
means of obtaining absolution. He found consola- 
tion in other pursuits, not merely in the ‘blue and 
gold coat, more becoming to the complexion than the 
academic mantle embroidered with tarragon,’ as 
somebody remarked in this connection.” 

I do not hesitate to transcribe here a paragraph 
which a kind friend has written, for at the core it 
is true, I eim happy to say. This life-long supporter 
of the Second Empire speaks as follows concerning 
this episode: “This affair of the appointment of 
Prosper Merimee to the Senate well illustrates a 
side of the character of the Empress which endeared 
her to all who came in contact with her. She could 
not forget a kindness and always remembered the 
friends of her early days, who had helped her in any 
way, especially those who unwittingly contributed 
to prepare her for the high position which she was 
eventually called upon to , fill. In this respect she 
was the pendant of the Emperor himself who also 
had a warm heart for the friends of his chequered 
youth. But in dispensing these peculiar favors, the 
Empress made fewer mistakes than her generous 
mate, which was largely due to the fact that the 

16 



FAMILY, CHILDHOOD, AND MAERIAGB 

Emperor had gone through hard times and had been 
served at moments by far from wholly worthy indi- 
viduals. But Merimee was an exceptionally meri- 
torious ‘friend of the first hour’ and both Emperor 
and Empress honored themselves in honoring 
him.” 

I have dwelt at considerable length on the Em- 
press’ relations with Merimee because her associa- 
tions with him were not only exceedingly pleasant 
but because he really had a strong influence on her 
mental development, and also because the story has 
not always been told as I have just told it. Per- 
haps I should add, further, that I have done this, 
too, because he had to do directly and indirectly 
with Eugenie’s marriage, though it is not necessary 
to go further into this matter here. 

When it was finally settled that she was to marry 
the Emperor, Eugenie immediately informed Queen 
Isabella of Spain, who then sat on the throne, 
in a formal letter, in which she declared that “I 
shall have no other thought than to contribute, in 
the measure of my powers, to strengthen the bonds 
which unite two great nations and two great mon- 
archs, to whose service I shall be consecrated by love 
and duty for ever.” 

Queen Isabella’s reply pleased both Napoleon and 
Eug4nie, especially the portion where she said; “I 
give my full consent to a union which is so splendid 
for you, and you may rest assured that I entertain 
best wishes for your happiness and that of the 
Emperor, expressing the hope that, both being 
guided by the hand of the All Powerful, you will 
lead France, that great nation, to the highest degree 
of prosperity and comfort. In the difficult and 

17 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

dangerous path "which you are henceforth to tread, 
always keep for guide, faith in the Supreme Being 
and the duty of sacrificing everything to the Em- 
peror and to France. Such are the sentiments of the 
Queen and the counsels of your affectionate Isa- 
bella.” 

The Empress then and there decided that she 
would ever do all in her power to keep up the friend- 
liest relations between France and Spain, for under 
every regime and in all times, an allied or neutral 
southwestern frontier has been a source of great 
strength to France, negative though it may be in its 
nature. The importance of this came out sadly in 
1870, when Prance and Germany were precipitated 
into a dreadful conflict, because this principle 
seemed to be overlooked for a moment in Spain. At 
that time the Empress labored with all her might 
to do what she could to prevent the catastrophe and 
so did Queen Isabella, who was then leading in Paris 
the life of an exile. During this crisis Eugenie re- 
minded her of the message to her in January, 1853, 
and of her reply, and added : ‘ ‘ Now we can both, in 
Prance itself, labor to prevent Spain from doing 
such an unfriendly act as to put on a throne, once 
so worthily filled by your Majesty, a German 
prince.” The ex-Queen replied immediately: “I 
have not forgotten those far-off days, and I am 
laboring, as you may well imagine, and as you and 
the good Emperor are laboring, to prevent this 
threatening disaster. May we all succeed in our 
honest efforts!” The Queen did strive, and "with 
success, in obtaining from this Spanish government 
the abandonment of this fatal policy. On this point, 
the Emperor said one day; “If half of the diplomats 

18 



FAMILY,. CHILDHOOD, AND MAEEIAGE 

concerned in this mad affair had the talent and the 
honest heart of Queen Isabella we would not only 
have been out of this imbroglio long ago, but we 
should never have got into it!” Some one repeated 
this wise remark to the Queen, when she said ear- 
nestly: “I do not know whether I have talent of any 
kind, but I do know that in this Hohenzollem cam- 
paign, I was honest in heart. Of that I am sure.” 



CHAPTEE II 


THE COUP d’etat 

A GEEAT deal has been -written abont the Conp 
d’Etat of December 2, 1851, by which Prince Louis 
Napoleon became the supreme head of Prance and 
which made him Emperor a year later. But the acts 
and causes which led up to this important event 
have not always been given in the same way or in 
the same spirit; so it has appeared interesting to 
state here the oflScial version of the Emperor and 
his friends. On several occasions, the Emperor 
spoke in my presence, to me or to others, concerning 
the persons and events of the Coup d’Etat, his 
“coming out from the legal circle and entering into 
law and order,” as he used to put it. "What I say in 
the pages which follow is based on these conversa- 
tions, on conversations -with other actors in that 
event and on notes made by me in my readings. My 
rather retentive memory is also called upon here as 
everywhere throughout these volumes, though in no 
case do I rely on it alone for a fact or a statement 
of importance, for I know by experience how treach- 
erous one’s unaided memory often is. In this con- 
nection, I recall a frequent remark of the Emperor. 
He would say: “I have often found myself deceived 
by my own memory. I had read or heard things, 
which I finally got to think emanated from me, 
whereas they were really quite foreign to me and I 

20 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


could not at all vouch, for their exactitude. And yet 
I was teUing them as my own and believing im- 
plicitly in them. Mistrust your memory as you do 
your wife,” he would say in closing, looking at 
Eugenie with a whimsical expression that meant of 
course that he was teasing her a little. The Emperor 
in his familiar movements immensely enjoyed ban- 
ter and good-humored irony. As he was always 
solemn and reserved in public, those who did not 
know him well imagined that he was heavy and un- 
responsive. But this was a great mistake. Napoleon 
had a light sunny side that accounts largely for the 
charm which he occasioned in the eyes and hearts of 
all who came close to him and in whom he confided. 
Few men had warmer friends and few made fewer 
enemies than Napoleon III. 

The cabinet formed on January 24, 1851, com- 
posed wholly of members chosen outside of the As- 
sembly, had lasted three months, when the Prince 
President of the Eepublic decided to yield to the 
demands of public opinion and select a cabinet taken 
entirely from members of the Assembly, hoping by 
this means to unite more closely the executive and 
the legislative branches of the government. So on 
April 4th, of this same year, the Prince charged 
Odilon Barrot, one of the old-school French liberals, 
with the mission of forming this new ministry. The 
President reserved for his friends only the port- 
folios of Justice and Finance, leaving all the other 
posts to the Majority. But Odilon Barrot failed. 
Eds friends wished to exclude from the new ministry 
all of the supporters of the President. This event is 
not always presented in this light ; but, nevertheless, 
this is the true light. The Prince, therefore, decided 

21 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


to form a cabinet made up of some of the members 
of the last one, and introduced new men whose 
ability bad been tried. On the morrow, Sainte- 
Beuve, who afterwards became a senator of tbo 
Second Empire, proposed a vote of distrust in the 
President! But all these wild efforts of the fright- 
ened parliamentarians, who felt that the power to 
govern was to be wrested from them, only added to 
the strength of the Prince. All those who wished 
order to reign, were deserting the turbulent minor- 
ities of the Assembly and putting their trust in him. 

The Emperor, in after years, often spoke to his 
faithful friends and especially to those who had 
helped him to accomplish his destiny, of the strug- 
gles of this period. ‘ ‘ One might reap a rich harvest 
and gain much information,” he said on one of 
these occasions, “by the perusal of the numerous 
articles, pamphlets, speeches and publications of 
various sorts which appeared at this time, all deal- 
ing with me and my policy. There were conflicts 
then of word and pen.” On these occasions he used 
to recall the following remarks of a man who was 
never his friend, but who sometimes spoke justly of 
him, Thiers: “The Majority is in fragments. The 
President, who seemed to owe his strength to his 
association with the Assembly, now walks alone, not 
only without the support of the Assembly, but 
against it. This divorce has not weakened him, has 
not humiliated him, has not even put him in a bad 
temper. He possesses self-control, perseverance, 
and strength of character. He has gained ground 
and friends. Nobody can question these assertions ; 
what I say is evident to every fair mind.” “Thiers 
didn’t always hit the nail so well on the head,” the 

22 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


Emperor used to add with a smile, after quoting this 
passage from memory. 

At this moment there was a general demand for 
the revision of the constitution with a view to the 
prolongation of the President’s term of ofiSoe. The 
Assembly could, in accordance mth the constitu- 
tion, take up the question on May 28, 1851, that date 
being the beginning of the last year of that legis- 
lature. A series of articles published in the Consti- 
tuUonnel as early as 1850 had called the attention of 
the press to the matter, and public opinion had also 
begun to manifest very plainly its ideas on the sub- 
ject. “Little by little the tiny spark grew into a big 
flame,” said the Emperor at a later date, and peti- 
tions in favor of the prolongation began to circu- 
late all over France. In fact, so intense was the 
movement, that the Minister of the Interior felt 
called upon to cool the zeal of some of the partisans 
of the reform. In the meantime, a central committee 
was organized to receive the petitions, though many 
were presented directly to the Assembly, through 
the people’s representatives. The Extreme Left, or 
the Mountain, as it was called, moved that these 
petitions be rejected on the ground that they were 
unconstitutional; but these opponents were Anally 
forced to give way before the rising tide. From May 
5 to June 31 no fewer than 13,294 petitions were 
laid before the Assembly, bearing 1,123,625 names. 
Of these signers, 741,011 prayed that the constitu- 
tion be revised, while 382,624 others did not hesitate 
to ask that it be revised in such a way as to lengthen 
the President’s term. By the end of July, the num- 
ber of petitions had reached the formidable number 
of a round 300,000, exclusive of only 526 opposed to 

23 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

revision. The parties whose plans had been upset 
by these popular manifestations accused the govern- 
ment of having brought pressure to bear to produce 
these results. But two months later, eighty Depart- 
ments out of eighty-five, through their Councils Gen- 
eral, or Departmental Legislatures, called upon the 
Assembly to carry out the revision of the constitu- 
tion. Men of sense recognized the fact that the 
nation demanded a change. Berryer, Dufaure, 
Odilon Barrot and others, who were not friends of 
the Prince-President, admitted that the people 
wanted the term of office prolonged. No one ques- 
tioned the necessity of a coup d’etat of some sort, 
whether brought about by the parliamentarians or 
the executive power, if proper conditions of order, 
authority and government were to be reestablished 
in France ; there must be some escape through ener- 
getic and determined means, from the complicated 
situation. As to the character of the method to be 
employed or the way of accomplishing it, there was 
diversity of opinion. Hence the many plans, varying 
in certain particulars but similar in their results, 
and all a violation of the constitution, which were 
proposed to Prince Louis Napoleon during his three 
years’ presidency. The idea of an appeal to the 
people became very general and seemed all the more 
fitting because it received the approval of such men 
as Thiers, Comte Falloux, Montalembert, the Duo de 
Mortemart, General Changarnier and Comte Mole. 
These facts should be kept in mind by those who are 
prone to criticize the action of the Prince-President 
a few months later. 

The first precise proposal came from General 
Changarnier, and followed almost immediately after 

24 



THE COUP D’ETAT 

the popular vote of December, 1848, ■which made 
Louis Napoleon President of the Republic. The gen- 
eral has denied the charge of having sought to bring 
about a coup d’etat, declaring that it ■was to increase 
the prestige of the constitution, not in order to 
destroy it, that he ■was ready to disperse the As- 
sembly, with the assistance of Odilon Barrot him- 
self, if such an energetic measure were necessary. 
In any case. General Changarnier went further than 
anybody else had during these stormy days, for he 
made sure of the support of the second regiment of 
dragoons. In excuse, he held that his responsibili- 
ties as general-in-chief obliged him to follow a firm 
and prudent course. But it could not be considered 
as an act of devotion to the constitution, his ■willing- 
ness in January, 1849, to cooperate by means of a 
great show of military force in the reestablishment 
of the Empire ; and yet that is what he did. On the 
29th of that month, Paris had a great fright. There 
was a mutiny among the militia and much effer- 
vescence among the “reds” because of a proposal 
to dissolve the Assembly. The insurrectionary party 
which had been defeated in the bloody uprising of 
the month of June of the preceding year had con- 
ceived the thought of taking advantage of this un- 
easiness to bring about a formidable revolt. But the 
government was on the alert and immediately took 
strong measures to defend itself, and Paris awoke to 
find itself caught in a net of steel and iron. This act 
of energy s'ufficed and the terrified mob did not 
move. General Changarnier, who was the ruling 
spirit on this occasion, then thought — ^nor was he 
alone in this way of thinking — that the setting up of 
the Empire was the surest manner of bringing about 

25 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


a solid government. If his wish had been realized 
and had been realized under his direction, the dema- 
gogies would have been curbed and all Prance 
would have welcomed the act. But the Prince at first 
repelled every attempt to induce him to hasten 
events by violent measures. “I was opposed to any 
attack on legal institutions,” he said at a later 
period, referring to this moment; “I wished to 
avoid estreme steps which did not seem indispen- 
sable for the salvation of society.” Changarnier did 
not hide his regret and astonishment at the Prince’s 
moderation and said on more than one occasion: 
“The President missed a fine opportunity to put 
things to rights. He made a mistake, for he will not 
meet with another like it.” If General Changarnier 
had had his way, the Empire would have come three 
years sooner, and he would not have been in a posi- 
tion to express very different views concerning this 
Empire from those which he expressed a little later. 
As the Emperor well said: “Changarnier found out 
how to make himself decidedly hostile to me as soon 
as events got straightened out and he saw that I 
meant to act for myself. ’ ’ It was natural, therefore, 
that the General should fall from power, which hap- 
pened on January 10, 1851, when he was deprived of 
the command of the Paris national guard. 

Thiers also had shown a willingness to saciifioe 
the constitution in order to reestablish a strong 
government. “But of course he was not working for 
the Imperial Government,” Napoleon would say 
with a smile, which meant that Thiers, as always, 
was working for himself alone. His first idea was to 
lengthen the President’s term, making it ten years, 
which was a breach of the constitution. “We may 

26 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


suppose that M. Thiers was delaying the carrying 
out of this plan,” the Emperor would say, “until he 
should be at the head of affairs; like many others, 
he found the time long between changes of cab- 
inets ! ’ ’ This idea of Thiers frightened the parlia- 
mentary groups, especially the party in power which 
pretended that the presidency was a danger to the 
republic. Thiers fancied that “the Prince’s thirst 
for power, ” as he styled it, would he quenched if he 
was given ten years of it. But the parliamentary 
leaders were mistaken in imagining that the Prince- 
President was privy to these plans. His ideas as to 
the remedy for the political malady were of quite 
another sort. They were revealed in his vigorous 
message, dated October 31, 1849, wherein it was 
made plain that Louis Napoleon and not the As- 
sembly meant to govern the country. This message 
and this policy cut short the proposed changes in 
the constitution, and prevented M. Thiers and his 
friends from violating that instrument. 

Comte Mole also had coup d’etat ideas running 
in his head. He did not hesitate to declare to those 
who would listen and even to those who would not 
listen, that the Constituent Assembly, in view of the 
organization which it had given to the executive 
branch, would not be able to establish a solid gov- 
ernment. Though in 1851, he was violently opposed 
to the Prince-President’s policy, in 1850, he ap- 
peared convinced of the necessity of reestablishing 
Imperial institutions, especially after the decidedly 
republican elections at Paris, in March of that year, 
which threw the moderate parties into consterna- 
tion. “We must reestablish the Empire; that alone 
can bring us out of this disorder,” he said — ^which 

27 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


remark the Emperor ■would also quote from 
memory. 

Overtures were made to the Prince and plans 
were drafted in view of preser-^g order under the 
auspices of the Government. But this spirit of con- 
cord did not last very long. Some of these leaders of 
the moderate party never entirely gave up their 
early convictions and rallied round the President 
only because he appeared to be the firmest center in 
the general upheaval. All this agitation culminated 
at a meeting held at Comte Mole’s castle of Cham- 
platreux, in September, 1851. The plan there dis- 
cussed had as its foundation, the reelection of 
Prince Louis Napoleon as President, the establish- 
ment of two legislative chambers and energetic 
measures to be taken against the socialist party. 
But no precise form of execution of this program 
was decided upon, so that the Prince, while fully 
appreciating the good intentions which had actuated 
these worthy gentlemen, could not look upon their 
work as very serious, and, in fact, the whole scheme 
was not long in dwindling to pieces. 

In the meantime, the struggle between the Execu- 
tive and the Assembly threatened to become acute, 
and men of order began more than ever to delib- 
erate as to the best extra-constitutional solution of 
the problem. Most of them favored a coup d’etat 
of some sort, but there was great diversity of opin- 
ion as to what form it should take. The monarchical 
parties desired to control the movement, using the 
Prince for their own ends, while he hesitated over 
the details more than over the main question. But 
on one point his mind was fully made up — ^he did 
not intend to be duped by the groups of the Right, 

28 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


especially as he knew he could count on the support 
of three hundred members of the Assembly. 

The newspapers added to the confusion. The 
democratic press was opposed to any revision of 
the constitution. The royalist journals were ready 
to accept revision provided it were profitable to the 
monarchy, but the Orleanist division of the royalists 
was opposed, holding that revision could be of 
advantage only to the Imperialists. Of all the Paris 
papers, the Journal des IMhats came out squarely 
in favor of revision. No wonder that in the midst 
of such confusion, Napoleon felt more than ever 
that he was called upon to act and not to talk. 
“There was nothing else to be done but what I did 
do,” he used always to say, when closing a conversa- 
tion on this period. 

Another serious obstacle which lay in the way of 
revision was Article III of the constitution which 
required a three fourths vote in favor of a change 
before any could be made; and as there were 750 
members of the Assembly, less than 200 could defeat 
such a measure. “The revision motion will not 
pass,” exclaimed one of the leading republican edi- 
tors of the time, “for our party is sufficiently 
strong in the house to prevent it.” And he was 
right. 

In the meanwhile, the Prince-President had 
determined to carry the question before the people 
in a number of public addresses. The notes on which 
these speeches were based exist, and it is from them 
that the following passages are selected, rather than 
from the printed copy given at the time, which was 
not always correct. These notes show what the 
Prince really had in his own mind, some of which 

29 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


thoughts he did not feel able always to make public 
when the opportunity offered for doing so. 

On June 1, 1851, at Dijon, he spoke about as fol- 
lows in one passage of his speech: “Neither 
intrigues, nor attacks, nor discussions of a passionate 
nature between parties are in harmony with the 
sentiments or the condition of the country. Prance 
neither desires a return to the old regime, whatever 
may be the form under which it is disguised, nor an 
experiment with Utopias which are fatal and im- 
practicable. The country puts its trust in me be- 
cause I am the most natural adversary of both sys- 
tems. If this were not so, how do you explain the 
kindly way in which I am treated by the people, 
despite all the adverse polemics? I may add that it 
is this kindly treatment which takes the sting from 
these polemics in so far as they are directed against 
me. If my administration has not been able to 
accomplish all the reforms we wished, this is due 
to the maneuver of the factions which paralyze all 
the efforts of Assembly and Government. During 
the last three years, I have always been well 
seconded when it was a question of putting down 
disorder. But when the matter in hand was the 
amelioration of the lot of the people, then I met 
nothing but inertia. But a new phase of our politi- 
cal era has commenced. From one end of France to 
the other, petitions are being signed demanding the 
revision of the constitution. I await with confidence 
the voice of the country and the action of the As- 
sembly, which, I feel sure, will be actuated only by a 
wish to do what is demanded for the public welfare. 
If Prance holds that no one has the right to settle 
what her fate shall be without first consulting her at 

30 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


the polls, I will see that this is done. Since I have 
been in power, I have proved that I have always put 
the interests of society before my own personal 
interests. The most unjust and violent attacks have 
not succeeded in drawing me from my calm atti- 
tude. Whatever duties the nation may lay upon me 
will be faithfully carried out, and you may rest 
assured that France will not perish in my hands.” 

This language reassured the provinces which had 
been disturbed by the underhand work of the dema- 
gogues of socialism; it quieted aU law-abiding citi- 
zens, and drove far from men’s thoughts the night- 
mare of disorder. In the Assembly, those who hoped 
to get control of the power, which they would not 
leave in the hands of the Prince, pronounced these 
words to be pure bravado. They called forth many 
replies, and among these was the well-known one 
of General Changarnier, who had been removed 
from the command of the national guard, in January 
of this year. In June, 1851 — a few months before 
the Coup d’Etat — ^he said in the tribune: “The 
army, no more than yourselves, does not desire to 
see France a prey to the misery and shame of the 
government of a Caesar, alternatively set up and 
thrown down by disorderly pretorians. No one 
could get our soldiers to march against the As- 
sembly. Not a battalion, not a company, not a 
squadron could be induced to make such a fatal mis- 
take ; and those who should try to influence them in 
such a direction, would find themselves confronted 
by the chiefs whom our soldiers are accustomed to 
follow in the path of duty and honor. Representa- 
tives of Prance, continue your deliberations in 
peace!” When, in after years, Napoleon III read 

31 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


this passage, on one or two occasions, he never 
could suppress a smile. 

The preliminary work for the revision of the con- 
stitution was still going on in the Assembly. M. de 
Tocqueville, chairman of the com m ittee having the 
matter in hand, made his report on June 25, 1851, 
and it came up for debate about the middle of July. 
During this time, the Prince-President continued 
his journeys, which were veritable triumphal 
marches wherever he went. Here is one of the notes 
made for his Tours speech of July 1, of this year: 
“I look without fear on the country’s future, for its 
salvation will always come from the people’s will, 
freely expressed and religiously observed; and I 
earnestly hope for the solemn moment when the 
powerful voice of the nation shall dominate all op- 
position and bring about concord among warring 
factions ; for it is very sad to note that the revolu- 
tions which shake society to its very foundations 
and leave a heap of ruins behind, cannot uproot the 
old passions, the old exigencies, the old elements of 
trouble.” 

On July 6, the President spoke at a town ban- 
quet at Beauvais, on the occasion of the unveiling 
of a statue to Jeanne Hachette, the heroine who 
defended this place when it was besieged in 1472 by 
Charles the Bold. According to his notes, he said: 
“It is encouraging to remember that in moments of 
extreme danger. Providence often permits a single 
person to be the instrument of the salvation of all. 
Yet Jeanne Hachette, like Jeanne d’Arc, did no 
more than to show Frenchmen the path to honor 
and duty and to walk at their head in that path. It 
was Napoleon who,- in 1806, reestablished the old 

32 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


custom, wMcli had long been abandoned, of celebrat- 
ing the end of the siege of Beauvais. He did so 
because for him France was not a fictitious land, 
bom of yesterday, enclosed within the limits of a 
single epoch and bound up in a single party, but a 
great nation resulting from eight hundred years of 
monarchy, still great after ten years of revolution, 
laboring for the fusion of all old and new interests 
and making its own all glory without exception of 
time or cause.” 

Henceforth, the Prince was determined to remain 
at the head of the state. He preferred to accomplish 
this end by reelection, which necessitated the re- 
vision of the article rendering reelection impos- 
sible. After several days of debate in the Assembly, 
the measure was voted down, and the President saw 
that he could not remain in power by this means. He 
also saw that though the constitution was not re- 
vised, it was stricken to death. This long discus- 
sion had made it clear that revision would have been 
voted if each party could have revised according to 
its own wishes. In a word, a majority of the As- 
sembly and the country desired revision, but the 
requirements of a three quarters vote prevented the 
solving of the problem. ‘Ht was a victory for the 
opposers of the lengthening of my term of office,” 
said the Emperor one day. “But my enemies were 
not contented to stop there in their hounding of 
me.” In fact, the Assembly passed a resolution 
blaming the administration for the criticisms of the 
conduct of public affairs contained in the petitions 
already referred to. “But,” continues the Emperor, 
“the country soon replied to this awkward vote of 
blame, with a calmness and a dignity which made an 

33 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


impression on me that I have never forgotten, and 
which also greatly influenced public opinion both in 
France and in foreign parts.” In the August fol- 
lowing this vote, the General Councils, or Depart- 
mental Legislatures, held their summer session and, 
before separating, most of them passed very signifi- 
cant resolutions touching on the question of the 
hour. Out of eighty-five of these bodies, eighty 
demanded that the constitution be revised on the 
lines desired by the Prince-President, only three did 
not take the matter under consideration and but two 
opposed it. Among these eighty, only one declared 
the revision to be in the interest of the republican 
form of govermnent. “If this were not an invitation 
to establish the Empire,” remarked the Emperor, 
‘ ‘ what was it ? The popular vote was evidently at the 
bottom of this action of the Councils General; they 
were better informed than was the National 
Assembly.” 

The parliamentary struggle had been warm, the 
speeches were many, and the summer was hot and 
far advanced. So, after leaving a sort of permanent 
executive committee behind, the Assembly ad- 
journed till the beginning of November. But neither 
the public mind nor the Elysee took any rest. Prom 
that moment. Prince Louis Napoleon began to make 
the final preparations for the approaching coup 
d’etat. One day about this time. General de Lamor- 
ciere remarked to a friend: “The coup d’etat will 
occur when the President has found the man he is 
looking for; and this man, who will shrink from 
nothing, is in Algeria. When you see Saint Arnaud 
in the War Office, then you may say that the coup 

34 



THE COUP D’ETAT 

d’etat is at hand.” This prophecy was soon to be 
realized. 

Meanwhile, there was much agitation among the 
different political parties hut the leaders did not 
seem to perceive into what discredit the Assembly 
had fallen in the eyes of the nation, nor the ardent 
wish of the country for a more centralized and 
stronger government, nor the ever-increasing as- 
cendancy of the Prince-President, who became more 
and more the hope of the whole people. Nor did they 
appear to hear the cries of the socialistic demagogy, 
announcing the era of pillage and murder for 1852, 
but went about with their eyes and ears closed, en- 
gaged in seeking candidates for the presidential 
office, when a novice, in public affairs should have 
perceived that that office was not to become vacant ! 
Some of these nominating bodies were serious, while 
others could be regarded only as childish. Thus, one 
of the organs of the latter category proposed as a 
candidate Martin Nadaud, the bricklayer deputy. 
Not less absurd was the suggestion which came from 
the editor-in-chief of the venerable Gazette de 
France that votes be cast for Henri de la Eoche- 
jacquelin, son of the famous anti-republican general 
of the Vendean insurrection of the first revolution. 
The republicans pushed to the fore, Carnot, son of 
the famous war minister of the revolution and 
father of the future president of the third republic. 
General Changamier, afraid of being forgotten, 
nominated himself and coquetted with the Legiti- 
mists and the Orleanists, and fell between two 
stools, as he richly deserved to do. 

“One fraction of the Orleanists then took up the 
candidacy of the Prince de JoinvUle,” said the 

35 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

Emperor one day, “while the Legitimists who could 
not hit upon a good leader, closed around me. Gen- 
eral Changarnier then perceived how his influence 
had waned since the day when he separated his line 
of conduct from my own. United with me, he had 
played the part of the Champion of order, my right 
arm charged with the defense of authority in face of 
demagogy and anarchy. Prom the moment when he 
refused to follow me, he was no longer much needed 
by anybody and he became a malcontent, a general 
without a command, 'waiting for something to turn 
up.’ ” Concerning the Joinville candidature, which 
had been invented by the Journal des Debats, the 
Emperor said: “In the first place, it was unconstitu- 
tional, as he was exiled. Moreover, it would have 
occasioned another division in the Bourbon family 
and grafted a younger branch on to the Orleans 
family; and if he had succeeded, against all prob- 
ability, in getting elected, he would have been 
obliged to accept a revolution, which had condemned 
his father’s policy and had overthrown his throne. 
Yet this candidature was advanced by one of the 
great organs of the press of that time, perhaps the 
greatest 1 Was it not necessary to put order in such 
iucoherency I ” 

In the meantime, the Assembly met again, and the 
first measure brought forward by the President and 
his followers was the repeal of the electoral law, 
which was based on a restricted suffrage, and the 
substitution for it of complete universal male 
suffrage. A long and violent discussion was the 
result, and the final vote showed a majority of three, 
out of seven hundred, against the measure. Thus, 
Louis Napoleon was the champion of universal 

36 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


suffrage, and the republican party its opponent! 
But the mistakes of the majority did not stop here. 
After slapping in the face the common people, they 
next treated the President “the Elect of France” 
after the same fashion. A resolution was introduced 
giving the Speaker of the Assembly the command of 
the military guard which watched over its safety. 
This would have been the last straw on the patient 
camel’s back! But it was not carried, and the coup 
d’etat, which would have been the President’s 
answer if it had been carried, was postponed for the 
moment. “This is perhaps the best course,” was all 
the Prince-President had to say when he learned 
that the motion was lost. 

But the Elysee was now more than ever on the 
alert. It was evident to aU observing on-lookers that 
this long struggle between the two powers could not 
go on much longer in this revolutionary fashion. 
While the different groups of the Assembly were 
seeking the means of making themselves dictator, 
Prince Louis Napoleon stood ready, everything in 
hand, waiting only to decide which was the right 
day for action. He of course counted for success on 
the army, and, as he had been studying the army for 
some time, felt sure of its aid. Thus, at a review 
during the summer preceding the coup d’etat, held 
on the plateau of Satory near Versailles, the cavalry 
actually disobeyed orders in their desire to acclaim 
the Prince-President. Since his advent to the presi- 
dency, it had always been the custom of the soldiers, 
when they filed past, to cry: “Long live Napoleon!” 
But the Assembly had directed General Changamier 
to stop this, and on this particular occasion, instruc- 
tions to this effect had been given to the general 

37 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


commanding the division which was being reviewed. 
The infantry obeyed and filed past in silence. But 
not so the cavalry. Swords were brandished and the 
President was saluted with enthusiastic shouts. The 
Prince showed himself displeased at this order, and 
the commanding general was removed and sent to 
another military division. This act naturally ruffled 
General Changarnier and the coolness between him 
and the President dated from this incident. “It was 
not so much generals whom I needed at this 
moment,” said the Emperor; “I wanted the support 
of the common soldier. So Changarnier ’s defection 
was not a serious blow.” 

At this period, the President often spent much 
time at the Castle of Saint Cloud, when he took 
frequent horseback rides into the country round 
about. One day he returned smiling and related this 
anecdote to the officers on duty: “If some Burgrave 
(the nickname given to the leaders of the conserva- 
tive party during the Second Eepublic) had been 
with me to-day, he would have felt considerable 
anxiety over the political future; for, while I was 
going up a steep lane among the vineyards, I met a 
workman, evidently a chair-repairer. I was moving 
my horse to one side so as to let the man pass, when 
he put down his burden and thus addressed me: 
‘Please wait a moment, sir, while I tell you some- 
thing. I am told that over there at the Assembly, 
the deputies don’t want you. But we do. We know 
that you like us workers. Those chaps must remem- 
ber that we elected you, and they should be given to 
understand that on the first sign from you, our arms 
and our chests are at your service. ’ In order to give 
empliasis to his remarks, he brought his fist down on 

38 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


my knee with considerable force, and as I passed on, 
he called out : ‘ Yon can rely on ns !’ The fact is that 
all the common people whom I meet, stop and nn- 
cover as I pass by. Those good Bnrgraves are mnch 
mistaken if they imagine that they can fight against 
me with snccess. They will learn this one of these 
days when it is too late.” 

Bnt the Prince began at an early date to make 
himself popnlar with the lower classes of Prance. 
The Emperor nsed to like to tell of a little episode 
which happened on Jnly 26, 1848, during the trnce 
which General Cavaignac had granted the insur- 
gents. “I was moving about among the barricades 
in the Faubourg Saint Antoine, accompanied by a 
friend, when the women, who wanted to put a stop 
to the bloody conflict, thus addressed me : ‘ Say, you 
dandy there, with the light colored gloves and the 
cane, instead of gadding about there to no purpose, 
you had better help us put up these white flags.’ 
‘You are quite right, my good woman, I have come 
to see if I cannot aid in reestablishing order and so 
am only too glad to help you in your efforts for 
peace. So I took oflf my gloves and gave them with 
my cane to my friend. Picking up a fallen flag, I 
stuck it in its hole again and steadied it with three 
or four handfuls of sand. I then put on my gloves, 
took back my cane and moved on amidst the laughter 
and cheers of these good women.” 

But it was neither the Prince’s popularity with 
the common people, nor the hearty support of the 
rank and file of the army that assured the success 
of the coup d’etat. They contributed largely there- 
to ; but what gave the weary President the courage 
to undertake it and what carried it to a triumph was 

39 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


the presence about him of a number of able, bold and 
devoted friends. Among these should be put first, 
General de Saint Arnaud, and the careful way in 
which the Prince went to work to win him over to his 
cause weU illustrates the remarkable manner in 
which the coup d’etat was planned and carried out. 

Major Fleury, of the Prince’s military staff, an 
officer of great activity and very devoted to his 
cause, had just completed fourteen years of service 
in Algeria, where he knew all the officers who could 
be useful to the Prince. He had served under Gen- 
eral de Saint Arnaud, whom he could not praise too 
highly to the Prince-President. So he was sent to 
Africa on a special mission whose aim was to bring 
over to the Prince officers in the African army who 
would aid in carrying out the plans then maturing 
at the Elysee, and especially to see if Saint Arnaud ’s 
support could be secured. The Major suggested that 
the young general be sent on an expedition against 
some rebellious tribes, which would give the latter 
an opportunity to distinguish himself and the 
former an occasion to talk with him about the cause 
which the future Emperor liad at heart. The Major 
was instructed to see the Minister of War, General 
Randon, who readily fell in with the proposition, 
adding: ‘‘Tell the Prince that when Saint Arnaud 
takes my place, I do not want to be mixed up in all 
the events that are sure to follow; all I ask is to be 
sent back to Algeria as governor general.” This 
was quite in accordance with the wishes of the 
Prince, who, notwithstanding what has been said to 
the contrary, never had a thought of asking General 
Randon to play a part in the coming events. So 
Major Fleury hastened to Africa; the Kabylian 

40 



THE COUP D’ETAT 

expedition was soon under way, witli General de 
Saint Arnaud in command, and the Major accom- 
panied him as being on a special mission from the 
President to follow the campaign. He was cordially 
welcomed by the General, but at first made no 
mention of the real object of his coming, though he 
did refer now and then to the conflicts between the 
Executive and the Assembly, and whenever he found 
a good opportunity for so doing, he did not fail to 
make the General understand that the Prince was 
the only candidate whom the conservatives could 
oppose, with any chance of success, to the revolu- 
tionary parties, and that the only remedy for the 
present state of things lay in the army. Major 
Fleury would bring up the same subject at table, in 
order to see how Mme. de Saint Arnaud took it. At 
first, she caused him some anxiety. This lady, whose 
maiden name was de Trazegnies, was related to the 
Merodes and to some of the best families of Bel- 
gium. She seemed to lean towards the royalists and 
would probably not exercise much influence over the 
General in the direction of the Bonapartists. But 
in the end, the Major saw that he was mistaken on 
this point. Mme. de Saint Arnaud, who was very 
devoted to her husband, wished to share the honors 
which she felt he could obtain, and soon hints be- 
came plain words, and the delighted Major was soon 
convinced that the wife was to be a great help in the 
work in hand. “You may count on me aiding you 
in every way I can,” she said one day, and arranged 
the details of the final interview between the Major 
and the General, when Saint Arnaud said squarely : 
“Let the Prince get me appoiuted general nf divi- 
sion, and I will answer for the rest. But we will have 

41 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


time to talk over aU this at our leisure, during this 
expedition.” 

In Saint Arnaud’s circle, Fleury met gallant offi- 
cers like de Place, de Sericourt, de Clermont-Ton- 
neire, Boyer, and de Chavarrier who entered heart- 
ily into his plans and all remained faithful to the 
future Emperor whom they served usefully. At 
Constantine, Fleury met again General Bosquet 
whom he had known years before. “He was when I 
first knew him, just out of the Polytechnic School,” 
writes General Fleury in some manuscript notes on 
this period of his career, ‘ ‘ and was a close friend of 
Cavaignac and Lamoriciere. He was believed to 
hold decided republican opinions; but as he was 
very ambitious, his political convictions eventually 
were pushed into the background. I quickly per- 
ceived this state of his mind, and if my overtures to 
Saint Arnaud had been repelled, I intended to open 
up the business with Bosquet, who, from what I 
afterwards learned, would have been only too glad 
to cooperate with us. In fact, he was evidently dis- 
appointed that he had not been taken into the com- 
bination. He did not hesitate to speak of the politi- 
cal situation, ‘which,’ he said, ‘could be cleared up 
only by the help of the sword;’ and he was quite 
willing to let it be seen that he considered that 
sword to be his own.” 

The expedition was carried out rapidly, and at the 
end of two months the tribes were subdued without 
any very great loss of life. During all this time 
Fleury did not leave the General’s side, and was 
thus able to talk with him constantly about the 
object of his mission. The promises already given 
were renewed, and Fleury was able to leave for 

42 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


France witli a report for the President of the com- 
plete success of what he had undertaken to perform. 
Thereupon, the Prince immediately congratulated 
the General on the brilliancy of his expedition, in- 
formed him that he was named general of division 
and that he would soon be called to a co mm and at 
Paris worthy of his high rank- and talent. The daily 
press at the capital had been full of references to 
him and his feats in Africa, so that when he reached 
Paris, his coming produced a real sensation. At the 
reception given in his honour at the Elysee, he was 
the cynosure of all eyes, and when the President 
took him to the theater, he attracted more attention 
than the play. He was soon given the War portfolio, 
and to still further increase his prestige, the most 
famous and popular generals and colonels of the 
African army were recalled, and Canrobert, 
d’Ablonville, de Lourmel, Espinasse, Marulaz, Een- 
ault and other dashing officers were added to the 
group of devoted men surrounding the President. 
“I then felt that the military chiefs could at length 
he trusted to act at the right moment,” said the 
Emperor in his review of this period of his public 
life. 

Turning now to the civilians whom the Prince- 
President had drawn around him, the first place 
belongs to Comte de Persigny, who had long been 
Prince Louis Napoleon’s confidential friend in the 
dark and troubled days of the London exile and the 
Boulogne fiasco. The Emperor has well described 
his character in this brief sentence: “Persigny was 
enthusiastic, perhaps even fanatical, someynhat 
erratic at times, but, unquestionably, heartily de- 
voted to me and my cause from the start to the 

43 



MBMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

close of Hs life; frank in Ms utterances and apt to 
complain if his advice was not followed.” 

Major Fleury and de Persigny called the attention 
of the Prince to Comte de Morny. It was an open 
secret that Morny was the son of Queen Hortense 
and Comte de Flahaut. Very intelligent and full of 
enterprise, he had long sought some outlet for his 
energies. He had tried diplomacy and had even par- 
ticipated in commercial undertakings. Politically, 
he was at tMs moment very friendly with the 
Orleans Princes and on good terms with their chief 
fugleman, M. Guizot, although he was naturally con- 
sidered to have Bonapartist tendencies. The revolu- 
tion of 1848 had ruined him financially and he was 
hesitating as to what course to pursue, when the 
star of Louis Napoleon began to rise on the horizon. 
In the course of the year 1849 he decided to enter 
into closer relations with the Prince, whom he then 
hardly knew. His political situation and his posi- 
tion in the clubs and in the best society could not but 
be very useful to the President. Both felt and saw 
tMs. At the first interview, the President was af- 
fectionate and kind, but a handshake was the extent 
of his demonstrativeness. Moray would have liked 
something more, but the President was not yet sure 
that he could go further, especially as the former 
committed the error of seeking to make too prom- 
inent the nature of his birth, for, it should be re- 
membered, Louis Napoleon never recogmsed Morny 
as his half brother, though the latter got up a sort of 
coat of arms consisting of the portrait of the Queen 
and de Flahaut, with Ms own arms crossed with the 
hortensia, a hydrangea — ^which he later suppressed, 
owing to an indirect remark on the Empress’ part. 

44 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


Notwithstanding all this, however, the two brothers 
soon understood each other and a firm “political in- 
timacy” was the result which became the founda- 
tion of an alliance to which both remained faithful 
until their death. They began by studying each 
other with care. 

The somewhat reserved character of the Prince 
always checked him from opening his heart too 
freely. While listening to advice, no matter whence 
it came, he made no promises. He liked to “work 
out the averages,” and it was very rarely that he 
was entirely influenced by one person alone. He 
took from several what he found good, or useful, or 
ingenious, but began by appropriating to himself the 
ideas which pleased him in others, modifying these 
ideas according to his own tastes. Momy, finding 
himself to be persona grata and often consulted, 
would have liked from the first to take the direction 
of the enterprise and perhaps dreamed of imposing 
his own will on that of the Prince. But this was 
impossible, for if there was one thing that Prince 
Louis Napoleon did not like, it was appearing to 
yield to pressure of any kind. It was always dis- 
agreeable to him to be made to feel that the per- 
sons whom he was consulting were claiming “au- 
thor’s rights” on anything they might suggest to 
him. But Morny was a first-class politician and 
he knew how to wait when waiting was necessary. 
He fully realized that by trying to hurry things 
and being too forward with advice, he was running 
the risk of compromising his new-born influence. 
He took hints from those surrounding the Prince, 
all of whom were friendly to this future minister 
—from Persigny, Fleury, Comte Edgar Ney, and 

45 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


others, and thus learnt better than any one else 
what the Prince was in reality, and by what tact- 
ful and clever means his confidence could be won. 
This plan was the very one to adopt, and the Prince 
gradually opened out to him as he had never done 
before to any one; and Morny, on his side, also 
felt the charm of the President’s manner, and ceased 
to be simply the wily and well-informed politician 
and became the intimate friend and devoted fol- 
lower. The Prince now had another trump card 
in his hand, and he was more sure than ever to win 
in the important game which was about to open. 
The parliamentarians also tried to play their 
tirump card, and feeling that a coup d’etat was in 
the wind, they invented the most varied combina- 
tions against the “dangerous Prince.” Through 
secret channels, the Prince learned that a plot was 
being hatched of which Thiers was the soul and 
Changamier the military instrument. ‘ ‘ They want 
to seize me and shut me up in the Vincennes dun- 
geon,” the Prince confided at the time to Lord 
Malmesbury; and at a much later period he said 
to the Empress: “In this crisis, I naturally pre- 
ferred to take the initiative, and instead of being 
put upon by the Assembly, to render that body 
powerless. Much of the talk about the Coup d’Etat 
of 1851 is pure idle sentiment. Governments have 
always employed these extreme measures after hav- 
ing exhausted all others, and when it was found 
that conciliatory methods had failed. Nobody has 
forgotten the violent acts of the Convention and 
the Directory, the stem measures of the allies with 
Louis XVm in the rear, the revolutions of 1830 
and of 1848, and the proposal of the Assembly of 

46 



THE COUP D’ETAT 

the Second Eepnblic to hand over military author- 
ity to their President. Were not all these really 
attempts at coups d’etat, though only in an em- 
bryonic and undeveloped state? When the ground 
is cut from under one’s feet, one is apt to cry out 
about usurpation and the suppression of liberty. 
But this is just what they were all trying to do. 
The affair of 1851 was a steeple-chase. I got in 
first and the others didn’t get in at all! That is all 
the difference between them afid me. Had federal- 
ism triumphed in the provinces in 1793, the Con- 
vention would have been called a criminal, an enemy 
of individual liberty, employing illicit methods to 
attain power. If Charles X had been better guard- 
ed and armed he would have forced the country to 
accept the famous ordinances. Would he then have 
been accused of fomenting revolt and would his 
ministers have been shut up in the fortress of Ham? 
On the contrary, would not the blame for the con- 
flict have been put on those who prepared the way 
for and stirred up the insurrection — ^the journal- 
ists of the National, certain ambitious deputies, and 
the duke of Orleans himself, who, pretending not 
to desire honors, waited till the crown had been 
dashed from his cousin’s head, and then com- 
placently let it be set on his own? If on September 
4 the deputies of the Left had met with some 
opposition from those who should have defended the 
throne, if the people had realized the infamy of the 
deed committed when Catiline was at our gates, may 
we not believe that these victors would have been 
called rebels, bad citizens and traitors to their coun- 
try? But they succeeded in their effort and it was 
the Imperial government, beaten by numbers and 

47 



MEMOIRS OE THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Tiulucky oireumstanees, by the desertion of those 
who should have defended it, "which was declared 
the guilty party. Measured by this rule, the act of 
December 2 was simply a natural result of the con- 
ditions of the hour. ’ ’ 

Nor was this coup d’etat carried to success so 
easily as some historians have led their readers to 
believe. The patience, perseverance, and daring 
shown by the Prince well illustrate a side of his 
character for which he has not always been given 
credit. "When it was thought that all was ready for 
action, it looked for a moment — and a most critical 
one it was — as though Saint Arnaud was to fail 
the President and his supporters. Here is the ac- 
count of this episode in the preliminaries of the 
coup d’etat, an account which differs in some re- 
spects from that generally given. In fact, some- 
times this episode is not mentioned at all, and yet 
it looked for a moment as though the whole plan, 
so carefully drawn up, and so long delayed in ex- 
ecution, would fan through because of this very 
episode. 

September 17 was the date originally set for the 
accomplishment of this great and pacific event. 
After having formally agreed to assume the re- 
sponsibility of executing the task. General Saint 
Amaud asked for a few days’ leave of absence in 
order to visit his mother near Bordeaux. He prom- 
ised to be back by September 4, on which date 
he was to call on the President at the Elysee. The 
General was back on the day agreed upon, but in- 
stead of going to the Elysee he sent the President a 
letter in which he asked to be relieved from the 
promise given and begging him not to count upon 

48 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


Tiim any longer. The anger at the Elysee was nat- 
urally very great. Persigny and Morny plainly 
showed that they were exasperated. Fleury, who 
had invented Saint Arnaud, was very much upset. 
The Prince, who was the most affected of all by 
this blow, let his disappointment be seen the least. 
“I was so sure of what must eventually happen,” 
he said much later, “that I felt that it was simply 
the postponement of the inevitable ; and after events 
showed that I was not mistaken.” 

“We feared now that everything had to be done 
over again,” says one of the actors in the scene, in 
private papers; “if, in fact, the whole scheme were 
not seriously compromised. Indiscretions must 
have been committed and all was probably lost. 
Though the Assembly was not sitting at this mo- 
ment, it was represented by the Permanent Commit- 
tee, which was completely dominated by General 
Changamier, who might from one moment to an- 
other learn everything. We all asked one another 
what was going to happen. Carlier, the head of 
the Paris police, came to the Elysee, and spoke with 
so much caution that it was evident he had aban- 
doned the project. General Magnan, who com- 
manded the army in Paris, vacillated and declared 
that without Saint Aimaud’s aid, he could not act. 
To calm suspicions, the Prince went the same eve- 
ning to the French Theater, accompanied by de Per- 
signy and Major Fleury. He was, of course, much 
moved inwardly, but kept a cahn exterior, which did 
not prevent him, during the intermissions, from giv- 
ing very forcible expression to what was on his 
mind. He was very severe on Saint Amaud, and 
with reason ; but not so severe as his suite. 

49 



MEMOIBS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


“ ‘It’s a treason,’ exclaimed Persigny. 

“ ‘Since they abandon me,’ added the Prince, ‘I 
will do without generals, get on horseback and alone 
advance to meet the troops.’ 

“ ‘No, that wiU never do,’ said one of those in 
the box; ‘though you unquestionably enjoy great 
personal popularity, and your name counts for 
much, you must bear in mind that you are not your 
uncle nor in the same situation as he was.’ 

“ ‘There are two things to do,’ said another: 
‘hand over the War Office to General Baraguay 
d’Hilliers, and send for General de Castellane and 
put him in command of the troops of Paris. Both 
these officers are very friendly to you. If they de- 
cline your offers, then you should return to Saint 
Cloud, act as though nothing had happened, and 
wait for a more favorable occasion.’ 

“Both of these Generals did hold back, giving 
good and sufficient reasons, and the disappointed 
President determined to retire to Saint Cloud on 
September 15. But before that date, he requested 
Major Fleury to go to General Saint Arnaud and 
have a frank talk with him. 

“ ‘I think it a nhstake,’ argued the President very 
wisely, ‘to leave Saint Arnaud alone, as if we had 
broken with him, for some of his fellow officers, 
like Leflo, Cavaignac, or Bedeau who are hostile to 
me, may draw him over to their side. They would, 
of course, like nothing better than to accomplish 
this.’ 

“A few minutes’ conversation with Saint Arnaud 
dissipated aU these fears. 

“ ‘What I meant,’ he said, ‘by asking the Prince 
to release me from my promise was this. In my 

50 



THE COUP D’ETAT 

opinion, the time has not yet come for action. The 
Assembly is in vacation, the country quiet, and if 
we move now, I much fear there will be resistance 
in all the Departments of Prance.’ 

“ ‘The Permanent Committee is on the watch, a 
coup d’etat is in the air,’ replied Major Pleury, ‘and 
it will not be so easy to act with energy when the 
Assembly is reconvened.’ 

“ ‘That is not my opinion,’ was the short reply. 
The General went on and admitted that, during his 
visit to Bordeaux, Mme. de Saint Arnaud had 
pointed out to him many dangers, and he closed 
the interview with these words: ‘Tell the Presi- 
dent that my ideas have in no wise changed in re- 
gard to the necessity of a coup d’etat, nor have my 
feelings for him undergone any modification. We 
differ only as to the moment when we should act. 
When you ask some one to throw himself from a 
house top, you must let him choose how and when 
he is to accomplish that risky feat. ’ ’ ’ 

This conversation was immediately repeated at 
the Elysee, and a few hours later, the General and 
the President were in the midst of an affectionate 
interview, which ended by the promise that Saint 
Amaud should be put at the h,ead of the War 
Office and that he should not fail when the time 
came for the coup d’etat. Then the Prince-Presi- 
dent retired to Saint Cloud, where he received many 
political friends, and where he also busied himself 
with improvements in the castle and the surround- 
ing park. The calm face of the Prince showed no 
trace of the anxiety of the past few days. It was 
a remarkable example of his wonderful self-control, 
and this trait of his character did more than any- 

51 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

thing else to prepare the preliminaries of the coup 
d’etat and to carry it to a success, when the final 
moment came for action. 

We always considered the five principal actors in 
bringing about the Coup d’Etat to be Morny, Per- 
signy, Maupas, Fleury and Saint Amaud As 
everybody knows there was a reception at the Ely- 
see on the evening of December 1st, but everybody 
did not know then or since that the Prince-President 
was far more nervous than many of his gmests have 
since imagined. He, of course, treated his many 
visitors with marked kindness and affability. This 
outward manner of Napoleon has often been re- 
marked upon. But he had to make a great effort to 
hide his concern. In fact, this effort tried him more 
than the vigorous actions which soon followed. “In- 
activity has always wearied me more than activity, ’ ’ 
he used to say very truthfully. This fact I have 
often seen illustrated in his career. 

After the guests left, the Prince held the final con- 
ference with his friends before the orders were 
given to “go ahead.” At this conference the Prince 
did not take the leading part, as is often asserted. 
His rule of life was never to march swifter than 
events. He. had long felt that a coup d’etat was 
coming. ‘ ‘ But all I had to do was to sit still and let 
it come,” he would say afterwards; “or at least, I 
saw that it was best for me not to try and hasten 
the fatal hour.” So at this final conference, he was 
the most silent of the circle. When he perceived 
by the language of his friends that they were ready 
to act and believed that the moment had come to 
act, “then I was sure that the coup d’etat was 
made,” the Emperor has said. 

52 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


On the morning of December 2nd, when Prince 
Napoleon was informed of the state of things, he 
sallied forth, from his house in the Eue d ’Alger, 
with his neighbor M. Gavini, “furious at what my 
cousin has done,” as he expressed it to all those 
whom he met. The violent diatribes and insulting 
epithets wliich he indulged in could not be too vio- 
lent nor too insulting. In this disposition, more or 
less modified at times, this able but ill-balanced 
member of the Bonaparte family remained through- 
out the duration of the Second Empire. His was 
a curious mind. He might have been of so much 
aid to the future Emperor, for his talents were of 
the first order. ‘ ‘ His remarkable facial resemblance 
to the great Napoleon alone was a host in itself,” 
a certain leading deputy once truly remarked to me. 
“Yes,” added the Emperor, when I repeated this 
to him, “but my good cousin generally spoils this 
facial resemblance by ‘making faces’!” 

Very different was the conduct of Prince Napo- 
leon’s father, the aged ex-king Jerome. As soon as 
he heard, at the Invalides, of what had occurred, 
he put on his uniform and rode to the Elysee, where 
he was warmly welcomed by his nephew. At ten 
o’clock, Prince Louis, with Jerome on his left, fol- 
lowed by a numerous staff, rode out from the Ely- 
see and presented himself before the troops, who 
received him enthusiastically. “I always felt pe- 
culiarly grateful to my distinguished uncle for this 
immediate and timely support, especially at a mo- 
ment when it was impossible to tell just what would 
be the final result of my act. He might have sacri- 
ficed his life to my canse. But he did not hesitate, 
and a true Napoleon, but political considerations be- 

53 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


fore those of a personal nature. In a word, King 
Jerome now did all that lay in his power to aid me 
to restore the empire. When he died eight years 
later, it was one of the hardest blows I over received. 
I felt that the last connection between me and the 
great Emperor had disappeared. From that mo- 
ment, I experienced a moral weakness that some- 
times must have affected my conduct of affairs ; for 
it must not he forgotten that I always sought in- 
spiration in the thoughts, deeds and acts of the First 
Empire and its mighty head. His death had been 
expected for some time, as he had been ailing for 
months. But his passing away made a great impres- 
sion, for he had again become popular. With the 
advent of the Second Empire, I showered upon 
him all the honors in my power. I went often to 
his receptions in the Palais Eoyal, where he held 
an elegant and very correct little court. The Em- 
press, too, liked his company, for his conversation 
was most interesting, as he had seen much during 
his eventful life.” 

What the Emperor says about her enoying the 
society of the aged king is quite true. He was flat- 
tered by the attentions of the Emperor, who used 
to say: “My uncle, who has a great deal of com- 
mon sense,” or “My uncle, whose wide experience,” 
etc. These phrases were often repeated to him and 
could not hut please him. The Empress trusted the 
father as much as she distrusted the son. The fact 
is — and I have touched on this elsewhere in these 
volumes — ^the latter had a very had temper and was 
reckless in regard to what he said on political or 
religious subjects. He was always very aggressive 
and more than once showed real hostility towards 

54 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


Eugenie, being sorely vexed that he was no longer 
heir to the throne. Again, he loved to appear “ad- 
vanced. ’ ’ 

By the way, naany untrue statements have been 
made concerning the Empress’ relations with 
King Jerome. Some chroniclers have said that, 
not satisfied with the presidency of the Senate, the 
governorship of the Hotel des Invalides and a large 
pension, he had a grudge against the Emperor for 
not giving him a large place in the government, 
and especially for not making him regent when the 
Emperor made his temporary absences from 
France. It has been, furthermore, declared that he 
was particularly disappointed that the regency was 
entrusted to the Empress during the Italian cam- 
paign and that he openly manifested his displeas- 
ure; that this displeasure increased when he per- 
ceived that “his suggestions were not listened to,” 
and that “his nephew had advised his wife and her 
ministers to take no notice of his uncle’s advice.” 
Needless to say that all this is absolutely false. 
This idle gossip is dissipated by a letter written by 
the king to his nephew, dated May 16, 1859, which 
I do not give here as it was long ago made public. 
Suffice it to say that the Empress always had the 
pleasantest relations with King Jerome, who never 
was heard to complain of the Emperor or to any one 
concerning the fashion in which he was treated by 
the Emperor, by the Empress or by the government, 
for the very good reason that they all honored him, 
not only for his own merits but as the brother of 
the great Emperor and as the only remaining di- 
rect link betwen the two empires. 

55 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


The Emperor has left this memorandum concern- 
ing the Coup d’Etat: 

“My enemies declared that they ‘would get rid’ 
of me at the very moment I was getting rid of them ! 
They imagined that the common people were on 
their side, and when some of the leaders were on 
the way to prison, they hoped to stir up sympathy 
by addressing themselves to ‘the man in the street.’ 
But they found this man very indifferent. I felt 
sure that such would be the ease. However, they 
thought they knew better than I. But events showed 
that I was better informed than they about the real 
feelings of the French nation concerning the de- 
testable regime which I overturned with the ap- 
proval of all sensible citizens. 

“On December 2nd the workingmen of the Fau- 
bourg Saint Antoine were beginning to start for 
their shops, when the event became known. They 
showed a little curiosity when they saw some of the 
political prisoners going by. But that was all. 
There was no attempt at rescue, as some of these 
more sanguine prisoners thought would be the case. 
The fact is that the Assembly had become very un- 
popular. The momentary coalition between the 
deputies of the Eight and the republicans against 
me could deceive no one. They wished to overthrow 
me and were openly plotting against me. ‘He will 
not dare,’ they said. But I acted first. They held 
that nobody would be bold enough to give orders 
against the Assembly and that if such orders were 
given, the soldiers would not obey them. Here again 
they were woefully mistaken. The facts showed 
that there was no disobedience among the rank and 
file. My friends among the officers who carried 

56 



THE COUP D’ETAT 


through the Coup d’Etat met ohedience practically 
everywhere. My foes had asserted that the whole 
population of France would rise up as one man to 
defend the constitution. But when the time came 
to rise, the 'patriots’ numbered a baker’s dozen. 

"It is true that the population of Paris did not 
all read my proclamations in the same spirit. The 
lower classes and the upper classes did not in every 
instance take a similar view of events. The larger 
body of the working people regarded my proclama- 
tions as a reestablishment of universal suffrage, 
the fall of the royalist majority in the Assembly 
and the maintenance of the republic. The phrase 
‘violated legality,’ which was later bandied about 
by certain leaders of all parties, they really cared 
very little about. They were looked upon as enemies 
by the great majority of the Assembly; they were 
for the most part deprived of their electoral rights ; 
they saw their wishes and ideas constantly opposed 
by the Eight; they believed that this same Eight 
was plotting for a monarchical restoration, in which 
view they were not far from seeing clearly, and they 
consequently wore indifferent, to say the least, when 
they perceived that I had clipped the wings of this 
threatening majority. Furthermore, the people of 
Paris nourished feelings of resentment against the 
middle classes who had been pitiless towards them, 
and they could see no necessity to worry very much 
about what seemed to them essentially a quarrel 
between me and ‘those heartless middle classes.’ 
Their general opinion was well summed up in the 
short phrase of the Deputy Lagrange, who exclaim- 
ed on December 2nd: ‘That’s well played!’ The 
arrest in the morning hours of Thiers, Changarnier, 

57 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

Cavaignac, Lamoriciere, and others, ■whom the lower 
classes looked upon as their enemies, confirmed the 
people in this vie'w, though their belief was some- 
■what shaken, it must be admitted, later in the day, 
■when it was found necessary, for the success of 
the new regime, to seize several of the advanced re- 
publicans also. 

“The so-called ‘republican bourgeoisie’ violently 
protested against my act. The conservative bour- 
geoisie, on the contrary, found in the Coup d’Etat 
a guarantee of governmental security and w'ore not 
displeased with what had happened. But the ‘lib- 
eral party, ’ which pretended to look upon the name 
republic as a guarantee of political liberty, feared 
a dictatorship in other hands than their own. In 
a ■word, the whole situation was very confused, and 
if I acted as I did, it was because something had 
to be done, and I did what seemed the best for the 
distracted country. It is very easy now for some 
persons to blame my course. But if I had left the 
initiative to one of the other parties, what proof 
is there that they would have done as much for the 
nation as I did? None!” 



CHAPTER III 


PEINCESS MATHIUDE 

In a preceding chapter brief mention has been 
made of Princess Mathilde, but I propose in this 
chapter to devote more attention to this remarkable 
woman, especially as a part of the success attend- 
ing the Coup d’Etat was due, at least indirectly, to 
her. Nor did her good auspices cease with the ad- 
vent of the new regime. She continued to be 
throughout the Second Empire and down to the very 
day of her death a pillar of strength to Bonapar- 
tism, and if some of the male members of the Bona- 
parte family had possessed the abilities and good 
sense of Princess Mathilde, the history of the house 
would not have been marked by several incidents of 
a more or less regrettable character. 

The Emperor’s cousin exercised considerable in- 
fluence over the world of letters and of arts, not 
only in Paris, but far beyond its walls. During the 
Empire and till her death in January, 1904, at the 
advanced age of eighty-four years, she held a most 
brilliant salon, first in the Rue de Courcelles and 
later in her fine mansion in the Rue de Berri, where 
is now the Belgian Legation, which was frequented 
by celebrities of all sorts and from which political 
discussion "was severely banished, at least during 
the Third Republic. 

Princess Mathilde ’s father, King Jerome Napo- 

59 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

leon, was the great Emperor’s brother and reigned 
for a short time in Westphalia, during the First 
Empire. When the Prince-President reached the 
throne, and earlier, at the moment of the Coup 
d’Etat, as was seen in the last chapter, Jerome sup- 
ported his nephew in every way possible, both by the 
prestige of his name and by his resemblance to Na- 
poleon I. He even bravely walked the boulevards 
by his side. The Emperor was touched by this gen- 
erous conduct and promoted him first to the rank 
of Marshal of France and afterwards made him 
Governor of the Invalides. The ex-king, in turn, 
was well pleased with these honors and was always 
careful to do nothing to embarrass the Emperor’s 
rule; so when he died in 1860, his funeral was a 
most magnificent state pageant, which made a deep 
impression on every one at the court. Napoleon 
ni liked to speak of Bang Jerome. “He brings me 
so near to the great Emperor,” he used to say, “not 
simply by his features, but in many other mental 
and physical things. I cannot forget his gallant 
conduct at Waterloo, nor the way he came to my 
support during the early years, when all the mem- 
bers of the Bonaparte family did not always imi- 
tate him in this respect.” 

Prince Napoleon, his son, and consequently the 
brother of Princess Mathilde, also had the Napo- 
leonic features to a very marked degree; but he 
adopted a far different attitude towards the new 
Emperor. He was always hostile to his cousin. 
Neither coaxing, nor proofs of confidence, nor 
honors could entirely overcome his independent 
ideas, his love of criticizing, a proneness to petty 
conspiracy, or the pleasure he took in grouping 

60 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 

around l-iim men who were for the most part un- 
friendly to the Second Empire. He frequently dis- 
played towards the Empress a rather disagreeable 
manner, her great offense in his eyes being that of 
having given an heir to the throne — ^the birth of 
the Prince Imperial leaving him no longer the heir 
apparent. He sometimes carried this spirit so far 
that at one of Eugenie’s birthday parties he actually 
refused to propose her health, as the Emperor de- 
sired him to do. But his loudly proclaimed anti- 
religious convictions would of necessity have raised 
a harrier between them, even if he had not chosen 
to seek other grounds of dissension. 

Princess Mathilde’s mother was Queen Catherine, 
born Princess of Wiirtemberg, a truly admirable 
woman, who was worthy of every praise. Her hus- 
band used to say that during twenty years he had 
tried to discover some fault in her, but without suc- 
cess. She loved him passionately, and showed great 
indulgence towards his imputed gallant escapades 
during their stay in Westphalia. In 1814, her father 
having asked her to abandon her husband in his 
misfortune, she absolutely refused to do so in an 
admirable letter addressed to the king of Wiirtem- 
herg. The latter was much incensed at this, and for 
a time imprisoned his son-in-law and daughter in 
the castle of Elvangen. A year later, they were sent 
out of the country, and then commenced for them 
a long series of temporary sojourns in different 
places. 

Princess Mathilde received a good education, first 
from her mother, and then from Baroness Eeding, 
who remained with her till her death. At an early 
age she showed intellectual parts and a pronounced 

61 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


taste for the arts and letters. When she was six- 
teen, she was considered very handsome, and 
already quite a woman, physically and mentally. 
Napoleon once said of her outward appearance: 
“Mathilde possessed the somewhat ample beauty 
of the Bonapartes, while around her she spread a 
certain charm that won all hearts.” 

On one or two occasions, after their marriage, the 
Emperor spoke with the Empress quite frankly of 
his early love for his cousin. One day, especially, 
he said: “The union would have been looked on 
with favor by Queen Hortense. But the Strasbourg 
fiasco spoiled everything. Having failed in that ef- 
fort, I was much ridiculed by my family, and aU 
idea of a wedding, even at some distant day, was 
abandoned. During my exile in America, I quite 
forgot the matter, though I did return to it for a 
moment in 1851. How lucky I was,” he would add 
with a -smile, “that it fell through. Furthermore, 
I was always opposed, in principle, to marriage be- 
tween cousins.” 

Princess Mathilde was, at the last date mentioned 
above, separated from her husband. Count Anatole 
Demidoff, Prince of San Donato, with whom she 
had been unable to live happily. The Emperor 
Nicolas I approved of his cousin’s course, and had 
decided the Count, who was very wealthy, to settle 
upon the Princess a considerable allowance, though 
she had taken her maiden name again and lived 
quite independently of her husband. As divorce 
was then unlawful, it would have been a great un- 
dertaking to have the marriage annulled religiously 
and civilly, so the two parties simply lived apart. 
The Princess, now enjoying a considerable fortune, 

62 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 


surrounded herself with a number of intelligent 
people whose company pleased her. Her one idea 
was to continue to be full mistress of her actions 
and of her heart, and she was never disposed to 
entertain even for a moment the idea of marrying 
again. She always remained, however, a faithful 
friend of the Prince-President, and opened her 
salon wide to the men of political promise whom 
he desired to bring there. But she gently declined 
his hand as, in fact, she had done that of the young 
Comte de Chambord. At one moment there was 
some talk of a marriage between her and the Due 
d ’Orleans, a suggestion made by Jules Janin, the 
celebrated critic, to M. Guizot, which led the Prin- 
cess to say on one occasion: “I might have mar- 
ried the three pretenders!” But she preferred her 
artistic home in the Eue de Berri to the uncertain 
glory of a French throne; and, by so deciding, she 
showed superior intelligence, and true philosophical 
wisdom. 

The Princess herself used to relate this story of 
the Due d ’Orleans affair. I have heard it also from 
Jules Janin. It appears that he really went to see 
M. Guizot in 1837, when there was talk of marrying 
the eldest son of Louis Philippe, and called the min- 
ister’s attention to the fact that Princess Mathilde 
was very handsome, that her family connections 
were irreproachable, and that the name of Bona- 
parte was worth that of many others. The King, 
whom Guizot saw in the matter, listened to all these 
arguments and then said quietly: “But she has no 
dowry!” In vain M. Guizot assured him that the 
Chambers would willingly vote her an allowance, 
but he would hear no more on the subject. Later, 

63 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


in 1870, when Jnles Janin, who had just been elected 
to the Academy, spoke of the matter again with 
M. Guizot, who had now become his colleague, both 
agreed, I am told, that their plan for uniting “the 
two families of pretenders,” as Guizot said, would 
have been admirable if it could have been carried 
through. 

Princess Mathilde, therefore, married none of 
the princes of France, but contented herself, as has 
just been said, with an enormously rich Russian, 
with whom she lived for some time in Italy. When 
King Jerome’s branch of the Bonaparte family was 
allowed to return to France, on the advent of the 
Orleans Monarchy, the Princess came occasionally 
to Paris, but she always declined to show herself 
at the Tuileries, though she knew the young Princes 
of Orleans and always felt kindly towards them. 
When, after the fall of that regime, the decree of 
1852 was promulgated, by which the State con- 
fiscated a part of the property which Louis Philippe 
had settled on his children. Princess Mathilde, gen- 
erously forgetting that her own family had suffered 
similar treatment in 1815 at the hands of the elder 
branch of the Bourbons, took sides with the moder- 
ate parties who considered that it was unjust and 
unnecessary to reopen this question, and publicly 
supported the Princes of Orleans in their efforts to 
keep their possessions. 

Princess Mathilde did not see the Orleans Princes 
again until the fall of the Empire, and she renewed 
her acquaintance with the Due d’Aumale only after 
the death of Prince Napoleon, in 1891, at which time 
there was quite an exchange of courtesies and marks 
of friendliness between those two distinguished 

64 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 

members of French royalty. She lunched at Chan- 
tilly with the Prince, who in his turn visited the 
mansion in the Rue de Berri, and was present there 
at a dinner given in his honor, where he met numer- 
ous men of letters and artists, a class of society 
which both the Princess and the Due were always 
fond of patronizing and with whom they delighted 
in associating. 

Exile, or the overthrow of parties, often bring 
about such reconciliations between persons who have 
long been separated by political differences. Let 
me give an example of this which always awakens 
in me most pleasant recollections. Thus, shortly be- 
fore the death of the Due d’Aumale, the Empress 
Eugenie was traveling in Sicily, accompanied by the 
Prince and Princesse d’Essling, when they hap- 
pened to pass near the Due d’Aumale ’s Italian es- 
tate, Zucoo. When the Due heard that the Empress 
was in the neighborhood, he crossed to her yacht 
in order to pay his respects. The meeting was very 
cordial. The Due d’Aumale was accompanied on 
this occasion by the Due d ’Orleans. In the after- 
noon they had a long and delightful drive in this 
beautiful part of Italy, and I do not exaggerate 
when I state that the conversation charmed the 
Empress as much as the scenery. 

Princess Mathilde was very glad to meet again 
the Due d’Aumale. “It awakened the happy me- 
mories of our youth,” she said one day, referring 
to this old acquaintance renewed. She often spoke 
about it to Bonnat, the painter, who had brought 
about the first meeting, which was followed by many 
others. In a codicil to her will, added in 1891, at 
a time when she was Vexed with Prince Victor and 

65 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


consequently overlooked one of her nephews in fa- 
vor of the other, she had, oddly enough, been care- 
ful to remember the Due d’Aumale, leaving him a 
portrait, by Nattier, of a prince of the house of 
Conde. When the Due d’Aumale died, she modified 
the codicil and bequeathed the painting to the Due 
de Chartres. 

What thoughts this simple act awakes. And the 
Empress made this note on the subject, which I re- 
copy and put here, where it seems to be quite in its 
place: “Two dynasties that have spent long years 
in quarrels, and whose partisans have been des- 
perate enemies, by such an action as this seem to 
forget the past. Chance brings about a meeting 
between these two strong characters, such typical 
representatives of the two regimes: Bonapartists 
and Orleanists exchange greetings of peace, in their 
person, while the pamphlet, ‘Letter on the History 
of France,’ which created a considerable sensation 
in 1861 and which was a severe arraignment of the 
Empire, was forgotten, as was also the duel which 
nearly took place between Prince Napoleon and the 
Due d’Aumale. It is true, however, that the former 
was dead when the reconciliation between the Prin- 
cess and the Due took place. At first, partisans on 
neither side could understand such an altered state 
of things, and continued to bicker about it. But 
the Republic is in power, and the vanquished par- 
ties, at first widely divided, now gradually draw 
nearer to one another, all ready, however, if one of 
them should appear to be rising to the surface, to 
become once more sworn enemies ! But, in the 
meantime, there is no reason why these conservative 
elements should not amalgamate, since there is no 

66 



PRINCESS MATHILDE 

political advantage gained in such a union, espe- 
cially as this category of French citizens remain 
more than ever outside of all political movements. 
This was the view of the political situation in France 
since 1870 taken by both Princess Mathilde and the 
Due d’Aumale and which brought them together at 
the close of their lives.” 

Princess Mathilde early came under the influence 
of a man of remarkable taste, Comte de Nieuwer- 
kerke, the sculptor, who encouraged her artistic ten- 
dencies and introduced artists to her salon. As a 
child, she drew with much taste, and, later in life, 
spent several hours in her studio almost daily, even 
to the very end. She had very talented professors, 
among whom may be mentioned, besides Comte de 
Nieuwerkerke, the Cirauds, Doucet, Hebert, and 
Claudius Popelin. Her drawing-rooms in Paris 
were filled with modern works alternating with fine 
canvases of the old masters. She even publicly ex- 
hibited some of her own work. When, under the 
Second Empire, M. de Nieuwerkerke was made Su- 
perintendent of Pine Arts, he became supreme in 
the Princess’s drawing-room so long as the Em- 
pire lasted. He proved an admirable Mentor in 
many respects, and the vogue which Princess Ma- 
thilde ’s salon enjoyed long after his death and up 
to the very moment of her own, was in no small 
measure due to the presence and good counsel of 
this excellent man. 

At times, unfortunately. Princess Mathilde al- 
lowed herself to be influenced by the occupant of the 
Palais Royal — ^her brother, Prince Napoleon — and 
occasionally tolerated a somewhat censorious style 
of conversation in her drawing-room which was 

67 



MEMOIES OF THE BMPEESS EUGENIE 


commented on at the Tuileries and much blamed. 
While outwardly amiable towards the Empress 
Eugenie, she now and then allowed things to 
be said against her and against those who sur- 
rounded her. She also took an active part in all anti- 
church questions, for she was inclined to free-think- 
ing. The truth is the mansion in the Eue de Oour- 
celles, where met twice a week so many men of talent 
and wit, as also so many critics of the Empire, be- 
came at times “a temple of epigrams,” as the Em- 
peror well described it. The intimate friends of 
the Princess momentarily imitated the tone which 
prevailed at the Palais Eoyal. Though, I hasten 
to add, these outbursts were only casual, the Em- 
peror was much pained by them. He did not show 
his feelings, however, and pretended to attach only 
a secondary importance to the matter. But those 
who were received both at the Tuileries and the Eue 
de Courcelles might weU be surprised at the free- 
dom of language heard in the latter abode, a free- 
dom, indeed, which not infrequently exceeded the 
limits of good breeding. This assertion can no 
longer be questioned, since writers of talent have 
noted in their journals, now in print, the spirited 
conversations heard in the drawing-rooms of the 
Princess. The Empress declared this to be the case 
at the time, but her assertions were often denied. 
But they can be denied no longer. It should be borne 
in mind, however, that it was the guests and not the 
hostess, as a rule, who were guilty of this intem- 
perance of language. 

One of the chroniclers of Princess Mathilde’s 
salon, Comte Horace de Viel Castel, was famed for 
his spitefulness. He spoke against every one, was 

68 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 


vexed with every one, and would relate in an acrimo- 
nious tone what was said or what was thought, and 
what might have been said or what might have been 
thought. It would be useless to contradict here 
that tissue of spite and, often, of lies woven by 
this venomous pen. M. Viel Castel, who was at 
first protected by M. de Nieuwerkerke but later 
dropped by him, was particularly bitter in the way 
he spoke of his former patrons and treated both 
the Princess and M. de Nieuwerkerke with great 
asperity of language. He exaggerated greatly, it 
would seem, the reprehensible side of the conversa- 
tions held in Princess Mathilde’s drawing-rooms 
when the Emperor and his consort were under dis- 
cussion. Many of those who spoke so carelessly did 
not imagine that their indiscreet remarks and 
calumnies were being gathered together word by 
word and preserved for posterity by the spiteful 
pen of Viel Castel. His untruths have already been 
pointed out by others, and just how much, or rather, 
just how little, dependence can be placed on his work 
has been clearly stated in the diary of the Gon- 
courts. 

AU this did not, however, prevent artists and lit- 
erary men from fancying themselves, when at Prin- 
cess Mathilde’s receptions, at the “Ministry of fa- 
vors” and from passing all their requests and de- 
mands through the cousin of the Emperor. In fact, 
she obtained many favors for them, for she had 
retained a certain amount of influence over Napo- 
leon, and, as she did not meddle in pohtics, there 
was no great harm in granting her requests. 

One of the chief sources of Princess Mathilde’s 
influence at the Tuileries was her devotion to the 

69 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Prince Imperial. She was sincerely fond of chil- 
dren in general, and was especially full of atten- 
tions to the yonng heir to the throne. She gave a 
children’s party in his honor in the middle of the 
reign, where Lockroy’s “School-Master” was 
played on a tiny stage by M. du Sommerard’s 
daughters, J oseph Primoli, Jules Espinasse, and the 
other young friends of the Prince Imperial. There 
was a cotillion led by Mile. Marie Abbatucci, Easter 
eggs were hidden in the garden and hunted for by 
the young people, and other similar amusements 
were provided for the youthful guests, who all de- 
clared that nowhere else had they ever had so good 
a time. This all pleased the parents, too, and natu- 
rally rendered the Princess very popular. The Em- 
peror and Empress had come to witness their son’s 
pleasure, and the Prince Imperial could scarcely 
tear himself away from the spot where he was pass- 
ing such a pleasant afternoon. In vain his preceptor 
called him. “I cannot find my cap,” exclaimed the 
boy in his excitement. The Emperor had hidden it 
so that his son might remain a little longer! 

Princess Mathilde often visited at the Tuileries, 
Saint Cloud, Fontainebleau and Compiegne. She 
was present at all the ceremonies demanded by eti- 
quette, and avoided none of the duties incumbent 
upon her as the cousin of the Emperor. Yet she 
enjoyed being nowhere so much as at her home, 
where every evening, when not obliged to go to 
Court, she held a reception, unless there happened 
to be a first night at the Theatre Frangais, which 
was one of her favorite pastimes. This led the Em- 
peror to say: “If Mathilde were not a Princess, 
she would surely be a theater manager, and if she 

70 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 


filled this part as well as she does the other, her 
house would surpass the Comedie Frangaise.” 

Her very eclectic drawiug-rooru was most inter- 
esting. Diplomats, literary men, artists of all kinds, 
politicians of all shades were welcomed there. 
Among the men of letters, she had certain favorites. 
First was Flaubert, who was later replaced by Mau- 
passant. Then came Taine, whom she wished to 
marry in 1856 to a person of her choice, and whom 
she continued to see long after the fall of the Sec- 
ond Empire, until he drew such a harsh portrait 
of Napoleon I, when, much to the amusement of 
the Paris literary and political world, she wittily 
out off relations with him by having her footman 
leave her visiting card at his door with a p. c. c. in 
the corner. Frangois Coppee was much at her house 
in the very first days of his fame, as was also Sainte- 
Beuve, a faithful correspondent, from whom she 
separated only in 1869, also for political reasons. 
Merimee, Theophile G-autier, Amedee Pichot, 
Yrairte, Augier, Sandeau, and FenUlet were among 
the best known French authors who were frequent 
visitors in the Eue de Coureellcs. Many of them 
came later to the Eue de Berri. That eccentric 
Franoo-American scholar, Henry Harrisse, used to 
recount there every fresh step in his remarkable 
Columbian labors. The Goncourts installed them- 
selves in her drawing-room as oracles, observing 
all that took place, judging, directing, and indus- 
triously collecting the most minute fragments of 
the wit which was so freely flung about. Most of 
these friends were also guests at Saint Gratien, 
the pretty property near the Lake of Enghien, once 
belonging to Marshal Catinat, which Princess Ma- 

71 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

thilde bought from the Marquis de Custine. There 
also, at various times, could be seen the Bonaparte 
Princesses with their husbands and children, for 
Princess Mathilde always did all in her power to 
aid in keeping union and friendship alive in the 
historic family from which she sprang. 

Princess Mathilde herself was not very fond of 
music, but she took care to procure good musical 
treats for her guests. AU the great composers, per- 
formers, and vocal stars of the day were heard in 
her drawing-room. Among the famous prima don- 
nas who added to their fame in this circle I recall 
Alboni, who, on account of her size, was surnamed 
by one of Princess Mathilda’s wits, “an elephant 
who has swallowed a nightingale ’ ’ ; Miolan Carvalho 
and Christine Nilsson. The wife of General Bataille 
and Mme. Conneau also sang from time to timp. in 
the Eue de Berri. 

Princess Mathilde encouraged with great enthu- 
siasm all literary efforts. Many writers who fre- 
quented her house read their manuscripts to her, 
with benefit to them and their works. She studied 
history, politics, everything that had any connection 
with art and literature, and so had developed a 
learned mind and a cultivated taste that were recog- 
nized by everybody. The Emperor has well said: 
“She was, as regards the diversity of her acquire- 
ments, and the generous and efficacious protection 
she granted to writers, a true Marguerite of Na- 
varre.” 

Princess Mathilde seldom wrote her impressions 
of men and things except to Sainte-Beuve, whose 
letters to her have been published but whose letters 
from her still remain unedited. I have seen some 

72 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 


of these, however. After the great success scored 
by the Lion Amoureux in 1866, she sent Sainte- 
Beuve the following peculiar letter, indicative of 
patriotic and liberal sentiments, which may be given 
as a fair specimen of a certain side of her epistolary 
talent : 

“Ponsard’s piece has delighted me; in the first 
place, because the characters speak French and 
awaken French patriotism and, in the second place, 
because it is admirably well played. The piece 
has revived all my old republican feelings. I felt 
like starting off with the Eepublicans to exterminate 
the Eoyalists, those unworthy Frenchmen ! When the 
father of the young woman who is converted by the 
youthfulness of a Eepublioan general and marries 
him in spite of all and every one — ^when this father 
to whom Hoohe has just given his freedom — when 
this old liberated emigrant says : ‘ Come, my daugh- 
ter, let us go over to the English’ — at this point, I 
wanted to hiss I I was quite satisfied with myself, to 
find that I am still capable of strong and patriotic 
feelings. I am not noble enough- to number among 
my relations any who have fallen beneath the guillo- 
tine; my nobility is bom of the Eevolution. I like 
it, I understand it, without excusing its crimes. I 
am indulgent towards its errors and I would like to 
see every Frenchman realize its grandeur and de- 
fend its good name.” 

Commenting on this letter, .the Emperor once 
said: “Mathilde paints her own character faith- 
fully in that page. She has always possessed liberal 
and patriotic sentiments, and seemed very little at- 
tracted towards the royalists. She even exagge- 
rates sometimes her liberal ideas.” 

73 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


On the religious question which, during the Sec- 
ond Empire, divided parties and even fractions of 
parties to such a great extent. Princess Mathilde 
was openly anti-clerical. Sometimes she was vio- 
lent in her judgments and often even unjust. Both 
the Emperor and the Empress felt that the govern- 
ment labored under sufficient difficulties in this Ro- 
man question without having dissension crop up in 
their immediate circle, and above all in his very 
family. At Princess Mathilde ’s receptions, as at 
those of Prince Napoleon, one often heard reflec- 
tions on this subject that reaUy shocked by their 
excessive freedom. Something of this same kind 
frequently happened also at the house of Princess 
Julie Bonaparte, who was manied to the Marquis 
of Roeoagiovine, and who seemed to prefer to gather 
about her those belonging to the Opposition. On 
this point the Emperor once said: “Princes often 
have these strange fancies and do not realize what 
the consequences of their taste for criticism and dis- 
sension may be, but allow their friends to do great 
harm to the common cause by this unwise freedom 
of speech. Nothing weakened my position more 
than the unbridled tongues of some of my indiscreet 
relatives.” 

But it was not only Ponsard whom Princess Ma- 
thilde applauded at the theater. She also stood by 
the Goncourts, whose Henriette Marechal gave rise 
to many stormy evenings at the Frangais in the win- 
ter of 1865. Realism at the theater was considered 
moat extraordinary in those days and the play feU 
flat, in spite of the efforts of the Princess and her 
friends. Some twenty years later it was revived 
at the Odeon. Princess Mathilde was delighted. 

74 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 


The play had, however, only a half success. Times 
had changed ; it was considered rather weak. Many 
pages might be written concerning the histrionic 
activity of Princess Mathilde. “She ought to have 
been a playwright,” her Imperial cousin once re- 
marked, “only then she could not have given such 
effective support to the plays of others, where was 
her real strength. When she saw that a piece was 
good, she wished to make others see it; and she 
often succeeded in this difficult task.” 

Artists felt even more at home in Princess Ma- 
thilda’s house than did literary men, She was their 
companion, not jealous of their talent, who felt 
kindly towards them. Whenever there was an oc- 
casion for it, she would be generous to them in 
pecuniary ways. Some of these painters had a fash- 
ion of almost settling down in her house, bringing 
with them their familiar and sometimes reprehensi- 
ble manners. They occasionally even indulged in 
jokes of doubtful taste. For instance, one Sunday 
under the Empire, they hit on what they considered 
an excellent farce. One of them dressed him self 
up so as to look exactly like Demidoff and then en- 
tered the dining-room, where a dinner was being 
given with Comte de Nieuwerkerke as the principal 
guest. Thereupon, the other guests fled in a gen- 
eral panic, leaving the Princess alone with her pre- 
tended husband. But an explanation from the 
painter soon brought back the fugitives. The Prin- 
cess thought the best thing she could do under the 
circumstances was to laugh at the joke, but the 
story got abroad and caused much surprise. It 
was felt, in some quarters, that on such occasions 
the Princess did not show sufficient severity. She 

75 



MBMOIES OP THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


■was partly disarmed by the fact that she herself 
sometimes indulged in little outbursts of wit which 
were often amusing, perhaps now and then rather 
trivial, occasionally pretty keen, and frequently a 
trifle spiteful. 

For instance, Vicomte de la Gueronniere, the au- 
thor and diplomat, who had a rather weak character, 
was one day thus addressed by the Princess ; “You 
are so anxious to hurt no one’s feelings, that you are 
really aU things to all men.” 

If any one was ostensibly lacking in deference 
towards her. Princess Mathilde sometimes got quite 
angry. One day, for example, Edmond About was 
guilty of some ill-placed puns before dinner, where- 
upon Princess Mathilde, without making any fuss 
about it, merely ordered his knife and fork to be 
withdrawn from the table. Edmond About under- 
stood the lesson and accepted the punishment. He 
obtained forgiveness this time, but when later he 
showed himself in the field of polities to be the vio- 
lent enemy of that which he had formerly praised, 
Princess Mathilde intimated that he need not re- 
turn. This was also the fate of the celebrated archi- 
tect VioUet le Due, the restorer, among other things, 
of Pierrefonds, whom the Emperor and the Gov- 
ernment had loaded with favors and who proved 
himself ungrateful and unfair. She did not forgive 
Taine, as has been seen, for his severe criticism of 
Napoleon I; nor Sainte-Beuve for having consented 
to join the staff of the Temps, a paper which was 
very hostile to the Empire. She called on him at 
his modest home in the Eue Montparnasse and re- 
proached him violently for this act. They never met 
again. Although Sainte-Beuve wrote to her, she 

76 



PEIFCESS MATHILDE 

would not reply. But, in the following year, when 
Sainte-Beuve was dying, she relented. This was 
in 1869, when she, during the absence of the 
Empress in Egypt for the inauguration of the Suez 
Canal, was helping Napoleon receive a number of 
guests at the palace of Compiegne, and could not 
leave the spot. So all she could do was to generously 
send a little word of forgiveness to the languishing 
critic by Professor Zeller. This action was very 
characteristic of Princess Mathilde. Though she 
was always a good hater, there was a generosity 
about her that would not permit her anger to fol- 
low its object to the grave. 

After the downfall of the Empire, Princess Ma- 
thilde went into a more modest hotel in the Eue de 
Berri ; but her social position was in no way dimin- 
ished. Her salon continued to be the meeting place 
of all the illustrious men of every branch of art 
and letters. All praised her good sense in taking 
no part in politics during the Third Eepublic, and 
remaining merely a protector of the literary and 
art world. Princes and ambassadors, academicians 
and politicians of all parties had the pleasant habit 
of coming together regularly in her drawing-room, 
where she was always found in happy mood, wear- 
ing the legendary pearl necklace, and seated under 
a large palm, by a marble bust of Napoleon. 

When her brother. Prince Napoleon, who, as we 
have seen, was like his sister in many respects, died 
in Eome in 1891, Princess Mathilde hastened to his 
deathbed, watched by him, and was kindness itself 
to her sister-in-law. Princess CQotilde. She then 
met Prince Victor, whom she had not seen since 
his quarrel with his father. When Prince Napoleon 

77 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


passed away, it was supposed that all the family di- 
visions had died with him. One was led to think, 
on seeing Princess Mathilde leaning on her nephew’s 
aim, that the quarrels of former days would he for- 
gotten. How happened it then that she did not tear 
up her old will? She did not think of it, her friends 
say. But it was a painful surprise for all when, 
after her death, in 1904, it was found that shfe had 
bequeathed all her fortune, with the exception of 
some artistic trifles left to various friends, among 
whom was Prince Victor, to her other nephew, 
Prince Louis, the brother of Prince Victor, who sold 
everything as he was advised to do, and thus found 
himself, I have been informed, possessed of five or 
six millions of francs. 

The death of Prince Napoleon at least brought 
about a complete reconcihation between the Em- 
press Eugenie and the Princess Mathilde. The for- 
mer never could entirely forget Prince Napoleon’s 
conduct towards her, and this coldness with the 
brother naturally somewhat chilled relations with 
the sister. He had almost always been Eugenie’s 
open adversary, and, while the Prince Imperial was 
alive, had often done his utmost to disturb the pol- 
icy of the party. After the death of the Prince 
Imperial, in 1879, he assumed the role of a Prince 
of the Left, holding very advanced opinions, and 
caused thereby such regrettable divisions among the 
imperialists that two very distinct factions were 
formed, one following the father’s lead and the 
other that of the son. Without ostensibly taking 
either side, the Empress naturally favored that of 
Prince Victor, always showing for him the deepest 

78 



PEINCESS MATHILDE 

interest and affection. Although she regretted the 
manner in. which the separation between the two 
Princes had occurred, her sympathy was naturally 
much greater for the son than for the father. As 
has been more than once stated in these memoirs, 
Eugenie was never able to get on with the latter, 
notwithstanding passing moments of better under- 
standing. For instance, when she visited him at the 
Conciergerie in 1882, when he was arrested on the 
occasion of his unauthorized return to France, she 
could not wholly forget his questionable attitude at 
the time of the Prince Imperial’s funeral and other 
acts, which revealed his unfriendly feelings for the 
Emperor and the fallen regime. But the Empress 
forgave much on account of her growing love for 
his sister, whom she often met in Paris when pass- 
ing through the city, during the closing years of her 
life. Then they would have long conversations, and 
exchange many affectionate greetings. The Em- 
press dined several times at the mansion in the Eue 
de Berri, at this period, and the two ladies became 
quite intimate. The squabbles, political diver- 
gencies and religious dissensions, which so often 
marred Princess Mathilda’s relations with the Sec- 
ond Empire, had then aU disappeared from the 
memory of both. Much more gentle in her declining 
years, Princess Mathilde was careful to avoid sub- 
jects which might displease the Empress, who on 
the other side, was always desirous of showing 
marked amiability towards her cousin. During the 
last months of her earthly life, Eugenie frequently 
went to see her at Saint Gratien, and spent whole 
days by her bedside, with Princess Clotilde; and 

79 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

wlien death finally came, the Empress was very 
deeply affected, for many dear things of the past, 
many good and suggestive memories, were buried in 
the tomb of Napoleon’s noble niece. 



CHAPTER IV 


THE BIRTH AND CHRISTENING OR THE PRINCE IMPERIAIi 

As long as her health allowed it, the Empress 
continued to show herself in Paris. She was seen, 
for instance, during the first week of March, 1856, 
crossing the Faubourg Saint Antoine on a visit to 
the school for working girls which she had lately 
founded. Later in the same day Eugenie followed 
the boulevards, with the Emperor but without 
escort, to examine the layette, or baby-linen, at Mile. 
Felide’s in the Rue Vivienne. A few days later, she 
ceased fo leave the Tuileries, the Archbishop de- 
manded the prayers of the diocese for her, and the 
moment seemed near at hand when the Empress 
might give birth to the much-desired child. 

The household of the “Child of France” was al- 
ready formed. Madame Bruat, widow of the well- 
known admiral, had consented, to leave the seclu- 
sion in which she had remained since the death of 
her husband, who had succumbed on his return from 
the Crimea, to accept the position of Oouvernante. 
Madame Bizot and Madame de Brancion, widows 
respectively of a general and a colonel killed in the 
Crimea, were chosen as assistant Gouvernantes. 

On March 13th and 14th the cradle offered by the 
municipality of Paris was on view at the City HaU. 
It was in the form of a ship made of rosewood. On 
the poop, a large draped figure, symbolizing the 

81 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

town, supported the Imperial crown. The long and 
graceful folds of the sky-blue satin curtains were 
covered with Alengon lace. At the foot were two 
little genii who would protect the sleeping child. 
The prow of the ship was upheld by an eagle with 
spread wings. Small columns, round which twined 
corn and olive branches, formed the base of the 
cradle. On the sides were Sevres medallions repre- 
senting Justice, Pmidence, Vigilance and Force. 

So great was the crowd which assembled to see 
this work of art, that the authorities announced that 
it would be exposed a day longer. Consequently, 
much disappointment was felt the next morning 
when the Salle du Trone was not opened to the pub- 
lic and it was learned that the cradle had been sud- 
denly carried to the Tuileries, where it was believed 
its presence would soon be necessary. The whole 
day passed in expectation. The state bodies sat in 
permanent session, awaiting the arrival at any mo- 
ment of an envoy from the palace. The artillery- 
men of the Invalides did not leave their guns. Ve- 
netian masts were hastily raised and banners al- 
ready floated from the department buildings. Until 
long after midnight the Parisians stUl waited to 
hear the first cannon. Slowly the crowd melted 
away from around the Tuileries with the gathering 
darkness, and only a few small groups remained 
around the castle, where the event was anxiously 
expected. 

The Emperor and Comtesse de Montijo watched 
by the Empress’ side, while in the adjourning apart- 
ments were the Princesse d’Essling, Duchesse de 
Bassano and Madame Bruat. Prince Napoleon, 
Princess MatMlde and the other members of the 

82 



BIETH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 


Emperor’s family holding rank at court were in 
the Green salon near Napoleon’s study. The chief 
officers of the Crown, a score of other personages, 
and the ladies of the palace were assembled in the 
drawing-room. 

At length, at half past three in the morning, the 
Prince Imperial was ushered into the world. 
Madame Bruat presented the child to the Emperor, 
and to the Empress, then to Prince Napoleon, Prince 
Lueien Murat, M. Achille Fould, and M. Abbatucci, 
both ministers, who had been chosen as witnesses of 
the birth. One hundred and one cannon were fired 
to announce “the glad news to the Parisians, who 
awoke rejoicing,” said one of the leading journals 
which the Empress read the next day. 

There must perforce be a considerable amount of 
publicity at the birth of royal or imperial children ; 
witnesses must be present and the event is naturally 
surrounded with numerous formalities. Fortunate- 
ly, however, the days are past when the crowd was 
allowed to fill the palace and the birth-chamber at 
the risk of killing the mother and child through lack 
of air, as was nearly the case, when Marie Antoi- 
nette first became a mother. 

Cantatas, compliments from all parts of France 
and Europe, universal rejoicings, deputations of all 
kinds, even from the market-women of Paris, 
reached the palace hourly. The news of the Prince’s 
birth arrived at Sebastopol on the 23rd, and was 
celebrated by the firing of cannon by our own and 
the allied armies, and, curiously enough, even the 
Eussians illuminated, and, from Inkerman on, the 
whole line blazed in unison. The Emperor seized 
the happy occasion to try and gain over to the new 

83 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

regime these irreconcilable Frenchmen who still re- 
fused to accept the Second Empire. So, on March 
20th, a full and free amnesty was granted to aU who 
had been expelled from Prance after the events of 
1848 and 1851. The sole condition made was that 
they should loyally accept the Imperial government. 
Though many exiles took advantage of this offer, 
a few refused to forget the past and most of these 
continued unfriendly to the government to the very 
end. Furthermore, in order to show her gratitude 
for the popular goodwill, the Empress announced 
that aU children born on March 16th could have the 
“Empress and Emperor as godmother and god- 
father, if request were made to the proper authori- 
ties.” Many demands of this kind were made and 
granted. 

Again the sound of one hundred and one cannon 
shots startled Paris. This time it was on the 30th 
of March and proclaimed the glad news of the sign- 
ing of the treaty between Prance and Russia. In 
this peace all might rejoice, for it was made on 
terms honorable to both parties. Paris was illumi- 
nated and the joy of the capital spread throughout 
the country, and far beyond the frontiers of France, 
for from all over Europe came congratulations to 
the sovereigns. This news gave Eugenie great 
pleasure, and this month of March, 1856, was, for 
her, the happiest of the reign. 

In the meantime, the Empress was recovering 
rapidly, and the child appeared healthy and strong. 
And forthwith he began to be the recipient of that 
long series of decorations which crowned heads be- 
stow on those distinguished by birth or attainments. 
On April 13th the list was opened by the Due d’Albe, 

84 



BIETH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


who brought the Order of the Golden Fleece to 
the young Prince, on whom it had been conferred 
by Queen Isabella; and throughout his short life 
the bestowal of these honors continued. On April 
28th, the day on which the treaty of peace was offi- 
cially promulgated, the Prince Imperial was in- 
scribed as an “enfant de troupe” on the register 
of the first regiment of the Grenadiers of the Guard, 
Thus early also began his military training, for 
which art he had a veritable passion and in the pur- 
suance of which he finally lost his life. 

The diplomatic body in Paris and the King of 
Wiirtemberg, then staying at the Pavilion de Mar- 
san, came to present their respects to the Empress 
the day after her recovery, and, at their request, 
they were taken to see the infant Prince. Thus was 
inaugurated a custom which was continued through- 
out the Second Empire. All the great personages 
who visited the Tuileries saw the Prince Imperial, 
who, in this way, from his earliest youth became 
acquainted with the leading rulers and public nien 
of Europe. This had much to do in making him 
the broadly cultured youth that he unquestionably 
became ; and from the very first day of her restora- 
tion to health, Eugenie made his education, both 
intellectual and moral, the first act of her thought 
and solicitude. “We are resolved to make him a 
worthy man and prince,” the Emperor wrote in re- 
ply to a letter of congratulation. “The Empress 
is especially interested in this good work. When 
she puts her heart and mind in anything, she always 
succeeds. So thus early I feel sure that our young 
Prince, if he is given health and years, will become 
worthy of the great name which he bears, and if he 

85 



MEMOI'BS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


should follow me on the throne will be equal to the 
occasion and know how to complete the grand work 
begun by his father and my noble uncle.” 

The Prince Imperial was born on March 16, 1856, 
Palm Sunday, day of joyous symbolism. Who could 
then foresee the calvary where his short life should 
end? The beautiful mother’s mission which the 
Empress had just accomplished seemed to make 
her very popular with the people. A spirit of good- 
will appeared to rule everywhere. Peace with Rus- 
sia was signed at the end of the month, and all the 
political parties in France had apparently laid aside 
sentiments hostile to the Empire. No cloud dark- 
ened the horizon; outwardly, at least, all was calm. 
The Vatican and the Tuileries walked hand in hand, 
French troops protected the States of the Church, 
and Pius IX stood ready to be the godfather of the 
Imperial child. This act gave great joy to the Em- 
press who always held in high esteem all religious 
sentiments and who was ever devoted to the Holy 
See, 

On February 8th the Holy Father wrote this let- 
ter to the Emperor, which clearly reflects the friend- 
ly feeling which he entertained for the Imperial 
family: “I would hide from your Majesty the feel- 
ing that God inspires me with a very sweet hope. 
I believe that He wills that now bounties shall de- 
scend upon you. Sire, in the measure in which you 
fulfill your agreement to support and protect the 
Church, in whose bosom you were born. As for me, 
I have no other aim in my words and prayers than 
to bring about the glory of God, the salvation of 
souls, the propagation of the Faith and the honor- 
ing of Catholic princes. Receive, Sire, the apostolic 

86 



BIETH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 

blessing which I send to your Majesty, with effusion 
and from the very bottom of my heart, to her 
Majesty the Empress, to the august infant she bears 
on her bosom and to all France.” 

Pius IX was celebrating mass on Palm Sunday in 
the Basilica of St. Peter when the news of the 
Prince’s birth reached Eome. Immediately, on the 
pontiff’s order, one hundred and one guns were fired 
from the Castle of the Holy Angels, announcing 
the news to the innumerable crowds gathered in 
Eome for the festal season. Everybody saw the 
important political bearing of the event, and the 
Vatican naturally perceived that it was another and 
strong tie which bound Prance to the Church. This 
was its politico-religious side, and the religious side 
was not less important than the political. 

Through the intermediary of Comte de Eayneval, 
French ambassador in Eome, the Holy Father 
thanked the Emperor for having had the happy 
thought of mentioning in his official speech the papal 
blessing which had been sent to the young Prince 
at his birth. At the same time Comte de Eayneval 
gave the Empress a piece of news which filled her 
with joy. The Pope had decided that the Golden 
Eose which he blesses each year during the course 
of the Lenten festivities should be sent her. The 
origin of this custom, which is rarely observed, is 
not exactly known. The rose had been given the 
last time to the Queen of the two Sicilies, when the 
Holy Father returned to his states, after the re- 
publican revolution of 1849 at Eome, in recognition 
of the generous hospitality he had received at Gaeta 
and Portici during his exile. 

No present or distinction from a sovereign could 

87 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

be more pleasing to a sincere Catholic than this 
Golden Rose. It was thought that Eugenie deserved 
it for her attachment to the Holy See and for her 
“ardent faith,” as His Holiness once remarked. 
Considering the circumstances in which the Holy 
Father now showed his sympathy, this act touched 
the Empress deeply. It strengthened her faithful- 
ness toward the Holy See, both from a religious and 
a political point of view, led her more strongly than 
ever to use her influence for peace and conciliation 
each time the horizon darkened between the Vatican 
and the Imperial Government, made her more pa- 
tient over the trials brought about by the Italian 
question, and caused her to show herself more open- 
ly and more irreconcilably hostile to the opponents 
of the papal throne. Though it is true that the Ro- 
man policy of the Second Empire has often been 
condemned even by good Catholics, it must not be 
forgotten that in the middle of the last century the 
European situation was not what it is now. The 
Church in France was a power and the Church in 
Rome was mighty both in religion and polities. 
Brought up an ardent Catholic and surrounded by 
strong Catholic influences, it was only natural that 
the Empress should cling to the Vatican not simply 
for personal reasons but in the interests of France 
itself. She held that polities are always firmer when 
allied with religion, and felt that the moral support 
of the Pope was not to be ignored. Those were her 
views then, and such they have ever been since. 
Eugenie was blamed for them then, and has been 
blamed for them since, but I owe it to sincerity to 
state her position thus clearly. It explains many 
things that happened during the Second Empire, 

88 



BIETH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 

wHeh is one of the reasons why I speak thus openly 
and frankly. It is my aim in these memoirs to throw 
light into obscure corners in the history of these 
times, and I think posterity should know all that 
can he known concerning the relations between the 
Tuilories and the Vatican. 

The rejoicing over the birth of the Prince was 
not confined to the general public. The poets, for 
example, also did their part in celebrating the 
event. The song of “March Sixteenth,” by Camille 
Doucet and “Napoleon IV,” by Bolmontet, were 
quite worthy of the occasion; but the Emperor and 
Empress were more particularly touched by Theo- 
phile Grauthier ’s verses : 

Qu’iin bonheur fldMe aecompagne 
L’enfant imperial qui dort, 

Blanc comme les jasmins d’Espagne, 

Blond comme les abeilles d’or. 


An milieu des soleils sans nombre, 

Cherehe an eiel I’astre imperial! 

Suis bien le sillon qu’il te marque, 

Et vogue, fort du souvenir, 

Dans ton berceau, devenu barque, 

Sur I’ocean du souvenir! 

With these verses in mind, a friend wrote Eugenie 
in the summer of 1879: “Who could foresee, in 1856, 
that the child grown to manhood would, in order to 
‘recover the imperial star,’ whose glory had depart- 
ed, sail the seas to foreign lands, and that the bark 
would bring back an inanimate hero !” 

All Europe seemed to share the delight of the 
French poets over the advent of this male heir. A 
hundred thousand francs were distributed to ohar- 

89 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


ities and the Emperor and Empress expressed a 
wish to be godfather and godmother to all the legit- 
imate children horn on March 16th. They also had 
the principal theaters of Paris thrown open at their 
expense for an afternoon performance, on Monday, 
the 17th. 

The people of Paris like ont-door parades and 
ceremonies of every kind and it was the excellent 
policy of the Emperor never to let an occasion pass 
for gratifying this taste. One of the earliest oppor- 
tunities of this sort was the baptism of the baby 
Prince Imperial and everything was done to add 
pomp and eclat to the event, which is here described 
somewhat in detail for this reason, as it gives a fair 
idea of a large number of similar festivities thickly 
scattered through the years of the Second Empire. 

It had been decided that the Prince Imperial 
should be baptized on June 14, 1856, and the Pari- 
sians impatiently awaited the chosen date. Nor were 
they alone in their eagerness to see a grand fete; 
more than three hundred thousand persons had 
come for the same purpose from the provinces and 
from abroad. The streets where the procession was 
to pass were thick with people, when the great day 
arrived. In front of Notre Dame, on the vast square, 
high masts had been set up, from which floated ban- 
ners bearing the Imperial arms; the ground was 
covered with smooth, clean, fine sand, while masses 
of flowers and light feathery ferns transformed the 
usually somewhat austere square into a fairylike 
garden. A large covered marquise had been erected 
in front of the cathedral. 

The ceremony was to take place at six in the 
evening, and some time before that hour, the four 

90 



BIRTH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


thousand guests were assembled in the metropolitan 
church, while the crowd without thickened so rapidly 
that, if the neighbourhood of the church had not 
been carefully guarded, it would have been impos- 
sible to force a passage for those whose business 
called them thither. As the Emperor and Empress, 
looking out from the windows of the Tuileries, saw 
the masses surging by with smiling faces and in 
their best attire, their hearts swelled with pride at 
the sight of this noble Parisian populace, and when 
they remembered that it was all in honour of their 
baby son, tears filled the eyes of both. 

One of the ladies in Eugenie’s suite thus describes 
the scene in an unpublished letter written at the time 
to a friend living in the provinces : 

“There were people at every window along the 
quays, people on the roofs, on the chinmeys even, 
people standing on trestles along the road, on the 
parapets by the Seine, on the arches of the bridges, 
in every possible corner, cramped and crushed, but 
heedless of discomfort; an inquisitive, sympathetic, 
innumerable crowd, buzzing, swaying, like bees in a 
swarm, thirsting for a sight which it knew would 
be magnificent, unique, in fact, on account of the 
splendour of the procession and the great pomp 
which was to be observed. 

“The interior of Notre Dame was lighted up, 
though the day was still young, so that the great 
dark edifice was an imposing medley of lights and 
shadows. All the (fiiief towns of France were rep- 
resented by banners which hung down the lofty 
columns of the church, and red velvet draperies 
brightened the scene under the starry sprinkled ceil- 
ing and arches. Not less striking was the assembly 

91 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


gathered within those walls, the gentlemen all wear- 
ing bright uniforms and the ladies in evening dress, 
with lace veils attached to their hair and falling to 
the shoulders. Thousands of candles sparkled in the 
nave and in the midst of the blaze was a platform on 
which were seated, arrayed in full pontifical vest- 
ments, the archbishops and bishops of France. 

“From the Tuileries comes Cardinal Patrizzi, 
the Pope’s Legate, in a coach drawn by eight horses, 
and as the papal representative, he is treated with 
the same ceremonial as would have been shown the 
Holy Father himself. The Cardinal Archbishop of 
Paris and the Chapter of the Cathedral await his 
arrival at the door of Notre Dame and he is greeted 
on his entrance by a full choral rendering of the im- 
posing anthem : Tu es Petrus. 

“Meanwhile, the Place de la Concorde is being 
rapidly occupied by cavalry, and from the Tuileries 
to the parvis of Notre Dame, a double line of 
National Guards and the Imperial Guards form ; but 
they have some trouble in keeping the crowd back. 
At five o’clock, a sudden clamor arises and the 
crowd sways excitedly; then the military bands 
strike up and the procession leaves the Pavilion de 
I’Horloge on its way to Notre Dame, via the Tuiler- 
ies gardens, the Eue de Eivoli, the Place de 1 ’Hotel 
de Ville, the Pont d’Arcole and Eue d’Arcole, and 
finally it reaches the Place Notre Dame. 

“The procession was headed by the trumpeters 
and band of the First Carabiniers; General Korte 
and his staff; and squadrons, bands and ofl&cers of 
several other regiments. Then came eight carriages 
drawn by six horses, each accompanied by two 
lackeys. The first six carriages contained a lady of 

92 



BIETH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 

the Empress ’s household, the lady-in-waiting to the 
dowager Grand-Duehess of Baden, two chamber- 
lains, the grand-mistress and the lady in waiting of 
the Empress, and the chief officers of the Crown. 
Then we saw four postilions preceding the seventh 
carriage in which sat Princess Mathilde, accom- 
panied by Princess Marie of Baden, Duchess of 
Hamilton. The Princess’s grand cavalier was on 
horseback to the right of the carriage, and on the 
left was a Colonel of the Guard. The eighth car- 
riage contained the Grand Duchess of Baden, TCing 
Jerome, Prince Oscar of Sweden and Prince 
Napoleon. 

“Louder and louder grew the cheers until, from 
a faint murmur heard in the distance, they sounded 
at last like the roar of thunder as two splendid state 
coaches, each drawn by eight horses and preceded 
by six of the Emperor’s postilions, closed the pro- 
cession. The first of these coaches was the identical 
vehicle used by Napoleon on the occasion of his 
marriage to Marie Louise, and through the clear 
glass could be seen the widow of Admiral Bruat, 
Governess of the Children of France, holding in her 
arms the Prince Imperial half hidden in an ermine- 
lined cloak. Mme. Bizot and Mme. de Brancion, 
under-governesses, and the nurse were also in this 
coach. Marshal Canrobert, the Emperor’s Aide-de- 
camp, and an equerry rode on the right of the car- 
riage, while Marshal Bosquet,, Adjutant-general of 
the Palace, and another officer, were on the left. 
Behind, followed some lackeys on foot and equerries 
of the Emperor on horseback. 

“Eight beautiful bay horses, considered the finest 
in all the imperial or royal stables of Europe, were 

93 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


harnessed to the second state coach, in which were 
seated the Emperor and Empress. The coach itself, 
enriched with artistic designs and gilded wheels, 
had just been re-decorated for the occasion. It was 
the coach which had been first used for the corona- 
tion of Charles X. 

“The Emperor, who looked a little anxious hut 
was most gracious to the populace, was wearing the 
uniform of a general with silk stockings and short 
knee breeches. The Empress was clothed in white 
and wore a diadem in the center of which sparkled 
the regent diamond. She was wreathed in smiles 
and looked handsome. We were all very proud of 
her. By the side of the coach rode Marshal Bara- 
guay d’Hilliers, Marshal de Castellane, General de 
Lawoestine, commander of the National Guards, 
General Fleury, first equerry to the Emperor, Gen- 
eral Regnaud de Saint Jean d’Angely, commander- 
in-chief of the Imperial Guard, and an aide-de-camp 
of the Emperor. All these distinguished soldiers in 
their gorgeous uniforms made a splendid sight 
which was fully appreciated by the people. 

“Behind the royal coach, after the running 
lackeys, rode the aides-de-camp and ordnance offi- 
cers of the Emperor, a squadron of the Cent Gardes ; 
then, headed by their colonels and bands, came two 
squadrons of the Cuirassiers of the Guard, two 
squadrons of mounted artillery of the Guard, and 
two squadrons of the 2nd Carabiniers. This choice 
body of troops and the excellent music of their 
bands produced a grand effect. 

“At six o’clock the roar of cannon and ringing of 
beUs announced the arrival of the procession at the 
doors of the cathedral, where the sovereigns were 

94 



BIETH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


met by Mgr. Libour, surrounded by Ms clergy. But 
just before this, a little contretemps happened. So 
thickly had the sand been sprinkled on the square, 
that the eight horses were unable to draw the heavy 
coach, and the lackeys had to push the wheels in 
order to bring it up to the door of Notre Dame. 

“The archbishop offered holy water to the sov- 
ereigns, who kissed the cross and were conducted 
beneath a dais borne by canons of the cathedral, to 
their prayer-desks. A master of ceremonies then 
distributed the ‘honors’ to the ladies destined to 
bear them. The Comtesse de Montebello carried the 
candle, the Baroness de Malaret the holy oils, the 
Marchioness de la Tour Maubourg the salt, honors 
which belonged to those who surrounded the Prince 
Imperial. Mme. de Sauley carried the towel, the 
Comtesse de la Bedoyere held the basin, and the 
Comtesse de Eayneval the ewer, honors bestowed 
by the godfather and godmother. 

“A platform surrounded by a baluster and open 
on the side facing the nave was placed in the center 
of the cathedral. On that platform, at the entrance 
to the sanctuary, was the altar, which was reached 
by three steps. The throne for the Emperor and 
Empress was opposite the altar, and it also was 
reached by three steps. The font was midway be- 
tween the throne and the altar. The baptismal vase, 
made of chiselled and beaten brass, was supposed to 
be the one brought from the Holy Land by Saint 
Louis. 

“All these arrangements at the church had been 
carefully supervised by the Empress herself and 
were particularly gorgeous and imposing and 
formed a perfect counter-part to the outdoor mili- 

95 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


tary display, wliicli was the special care of the 
Emperor. This division of labour weU illustrates 
the harmonious way in which our two excellent 
sovereigns ‘pull together.’ 

“The Cardinal Legate occupied a throne opposite 
the altar and the throne of the Emperor and Em- 
press. In front of the sanctuary were seats for the 
Cardinal- Archbishop of Paris and the canons of the 
cathedral. The clergy made a special effort to be 
out in full force, arrayed in their most splendid 
robes, which added not a little to the general effect. 
The other seats were for the Prince Imperial, who 
was carried in the arms of Mme. Bruat, for the 
Grand-Duchess of Baden, representing the Queen 
of Sweden, the godmother, for Prince Oscar, King 
of Sweden, and for the princes and princesses of the 
Emperor’s family. I name only a few of the grand 
personages present. The list is too long to give 
them all. 

“Having reached their designated places, the Em- 
peror and Empress knelt on their prayer-desks, 
while the Legate, leaving his throne, stepped to the 
foot of the altar and intoned the Veni Creator, 
which was immediately taken up by the choir. Mean- 
while, the ladies bearing the honors deposited the 
various articles on the tables placed near the altar 
and which served as credences. 

“When the Veni Creator was ended, the Cardinal 
Legate proceeded to perform the baptismal cere- 
mony. As soon as this was completed, the Governess 
of the Children of Prance placed the Prince Im- 
perial in the Emperor’s arms. Then a master of 
ceremonies stepped to the front of the aisle and 
cried three times: ‘Long live the Prince Imperial!’ 

96 



BIETH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


The Emperor raised his son aloft, and, with a loving 
and happy expression, presented him to the congre- 
gation, while the Empress, much affected and very 
pale, showed deep emotion. Then, while the grand 
music of the Vivat, composed for the baptism of 
the King of Rome, by Le Sueur, filled the church, a 
loud shout of joy and welcome broke from the com- 
pact crowd, which evidently went right to the heart 
of both the Emperor and Empress, for tears 
trickled down their cheeks. 

“The Cardinal Legate next intoned the Te Devm 
and the Domine Salvum- Fac Imperatorem, after 
which he gave the Papal blessing. The Archbishop 
of Paris, surrounded by the clergy of Saint Ger- 
main PAuxerrois, presented the parish register of 
baptisms for the Emperor’s signature, which the 
Empress signed also, with a trembling hand; and 
the interesting and imposing ceremony was ended. 

“Preceded by a squadron of the Guides, followed 
by cuirassiers of the Guard, a carriage drawn by 
eight horses brought the little Prince back to the 
Tuileries, by the quays. I may add, that he behaved 
himself very well throughout this rather long cere- 
mony; and, after his departure, the Archbishop of 
Paris, preceded by the metropolitan chapter, recon- 
ducted the Emperor and Empress to the door of the 
cathedral. Here the sovereigns stepped into their 
grand coach, and were driven across the Pont 
d’Arcole, through the magnificently decorated 
Place, to the City Hall, where a grand banquet was 
offered in the great dining hall by the Municipal 
Council. Pour hundred guests were already gath- 
ered in the grand drawing-room. The Emperor and 
Empress took their place at a table raised above the 

97 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

others, surrounded by the princes and princesses of 
the Bonaparte family, and during the dinner a fine 
concert was given. The Empress, in spite of the 
fatigue of the day, appeared smiling and radiant, 
and, after the banquet, remained for some time with 
the Emperor in the magnificently lighted salons. 
The Cardinal Legate appeared for a moment before 
the commencement of the ball, and immediately 
after his withdrawal, the quadrille of honor began. 
The Emperor opened the ball with the Baroness 
Haussmann, while the Empress danced with the 
Prefect of the Seine. Both seemed happy and con- 
tented with the way in which everything passed off. 

“The return to the Tuileries was affected in semi- 
State landaus instead of the grand coaches used 
earlier in the day, as the return was made at a more 
rapid pace than that observed during the proces- 
sion to the cathedral. Loud and continuous cheering 
accompanied the sovereigns on their way to the 
palace, as they passed through the brilliantly lighted 
streets, hung with flags and banners. This is, in- 
deed, a day that will be long remembered by Paris- 
ians and which will remain more deeply graven than 
any other in the heart of the Empress.” 

The popular rejoicings and festivities continued 
during several days. Commemorative medals were 
distributed in great quantities and packets of sweets 
were provided for the children of the public schools. 
Numerous pardons were granted to civil and mili- 
tary prisoners. The Emperor, indeed, made a great 
event of the christening. “It reminded one of the 
grand days of the First Empire,” he said years 
afterwards. “It was, of course, a fine sight, the 
long parade of gala carriages, with the coach used 

98 



BIETH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 


for the coronation of Charles X at the head of the 
line.” Later, the Parisian public seemed always to 
take a peculiar interest in seeing the imperial infant 
drive in the Bois, in his nurse’s arms, the carriage 
being followed by an escort of the Cent G-ardes. At 
the age of four, the Emperor had him entered in 
the regiment of the grenadiers of the Gardes and 
he used to take part in the parade in the Tuileries 
court-yard, as an onlooker. Adolphe Yvon, the 
talented painter of military life, has left a canvas, 
in which the child is represented in uniform, stand- 
ing with three grenadiers who are at a salute. A 
little later, the Prince Imperial was, to his great 
delight, made a corporal, and thoroughly enjoyed 
practising sword exercises with his little playfel- 
lows, Louis Conneau, son of the physician who aided 
the future Emperor to escape from Ham, and Jules 
Espinasse, who was a little older than the Prince, 
the son of the general who was killed at Magenta. 

One evening during “the christening week,” 
there was a grand firework display in front of the 
Palace of the Legislative Body, the chief feature of 
which was the representation of a gothic baptistery; 
and there was also an illumination of the Tuileries 
gardens. The Court all watched from the win- 
dows of the Navy Department, on the Place de la 
Concorde, and it was understood that the Em- 
press should give the signal for them to commence. 
The crowd was so dense on the square that it was 
impossible to pass through, and the court party was 
obliged to wait till eleven o’clock before they could 
leave the building and return to the Tuileries. The 
part of the city round the City Hall was magnifi- 
cently illuminated during three days. The Avenue 

99 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

Victoria was transformed into a garden with foun- 
tains and flowers from all countries, and on June 
16th, the day of the Municipal ball, it was quite 
fairy-like. 

Everywhere, during these fetes, the Emperor and 
the Empress were greeted with loud cheers and ova- 
tions of the most spontaneous nature. The rejoicing 
of the people seemed almost delirious. Tired out by 
the joyous events of the week, the Emperor and 
Eugenie finally sought a little rest at the palace of 
Saint Cloud, where the interesting ceremony of the 
gift of the Golden Rose took place on Thursday, 
June 19th. During the mass, which was celebrated 
by Cardinal Patrizzi, the Golden Rose was deposited 
on the epistle side of the altar, and then the Legate 
took a seat facing the Emperor and Empress, when 
one of the prelates of his suite read the pontifical 
brief conferring on the Cardinal the right to bestow 
the rose. Thereupon, the Empress advanced and 
the Golden Rose waa presented to her by Cardinal 
Patrizzi, with the usual formula. 

The Pope ’s gift was in the form of a golden rose- 
tree in a flower-pot which was also of gold, resting 
on a lapis lazuli pedestal. The two bas-reliefs of the 
pedestal represented the birth of the Blessed Virgin 
and her Presentation in the Temple, while the arms 
of Pius IX and Napoleon III were engraved on the 
sides. 

After the ceremony, the Cardinal Legate prat- 
sented to the Emperor an admirable piece of mosaic 
work representing St. John the Baptist, after Guido. 
Also the Holy Father sent to the Prince Imperial an 
enameled reliquary containing a relic of the Holy 

100 



BIRTH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


Manger. The child was brought to the Chapel in 
order to receive this sacred gift. 

Truly, the summer of 1856 seemed full of promise, 
for the country was then enjoying an era of pros- 
perity and peace, and the Empire was evidently 
very popular. It was not till three years later that 
this peace was unfortunately disturbed by the Aus- 
trian war. That the Second Empire was popular at 
this moment cannot be doubted. The people of Paris 
had given striking evidence of this during the cere- 
mony just described, and from all parts of the 
nation the Emperor received many public and 
private evidences of the fact that the provinces were 
not behind the capital in loyal and enthusiastic sup- 
port of the new regime. So the young Prince Im- 
perial began his life under a cloudless sky, and the 
Empress has always felt that this was perhaps the 
happiest moment of her existence. 



CHAPTBE V 


THE YOUTH OE THE PEINOE IMPEBIAL 

I eecauj many eherislied memories of the Prince 
Imperial’s first communion. His religious education 
for this important act was intrusted to Abbe De- 
guerry, vicar of the Madeleine, a very learned and 
venerable prelate, who later lost his life in the Com- 
mune outbreak. He was gentle of speech and per- 
suasive. The Prince listened attentively to his 
teaching, but the young man’s questioning spirit led 
him to argue with his spiritual director, who had to 
convince him that the mind cannot grasp all the 
mysteries of the future life, as if one had to do with 
mathematics. One day the good Abbe told his pupil 
the story of the crucifixion and the suffering of the 
Blessed Virgin. He himself was much moved by the 
narration, and though the Prince was very attentive, 
he did not appear to be as much affected as one 
might have thought. So M. Deguerry said to him: 
“Is there any greater cause for tears than the pas- 
sion of Our Lord?” “Certainly not, M. I’Abbe,” 
replied the Prince, “but you have taught me that 
God sees everything, knows everything and can do 
everything. So he must have willed that Christ 
should suffer and that the Virgin should suffer. 
This thought prevents me from crying.” Though 
the Prince was disposed to discuss things which he 
did not understand, his religious faith was sincere 

102 



YOUTH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 


and real. He was ever ready to accept in the spirit- 
ual world what his more worldly mind could not 
grasp. His natural piety was greatly strengthened 
after this careful examination, under the devout 
direction of Abbe Deguerry, of the claims and tenets 
of Christianity. He said to the Empress later, re- 
ferring to this earlier period in his boyhood: “I 
fully realized the good example I could set and what 
were my religious duties. I oven then perceived 
what a great consolation faith brings to mankind 
and what a vast source of strength it is to govern- 
ments. The fact that I was probably to be the head 
of a nation sufficed to make me an earnest Christian.” 

The Prince Imperial communed for the first time 
on May 7, 1868, in the Tuileries chapel, which was 
decorated with crimson velvet hangings fringed 
with gold and was delightfully scented with the 
odor of new-cut flowers. It is a curious fact that 
the perfume of that ceremony still clings in Eu- 
genie’s memory, and on more than one occasion 
since then, sometimes when she has been driving 
through the country lanes of beautiful England, and 
sometimes in some public hall or private drawing- 
room, the same flower or some similar perfume has 
brought back the odor of that little chapel and with 
it the memory of that touching ceremony, nearly all 
of the actors in which have now passed on into the 
unseen world. The Emperor was, of course, present, 
accompanied by all the princes and princesses of 
the house of Bonaparte. In the gallery were the eld- 
est son of Prince Napoleon and the young com- 
panions of the communicant. In the center of the 
choir-sanctuary, his head bowed and his eyes fixed 
on the altar, with his governor on one side and Abbe 

103 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Deguerry on tlie other, sat the young Prince, solemn 
and dignified. The eloquent and touching words 
pronounced on this occasion by Archbishop Darboy, 
I have never forgotten. At one point he stopped in 
his address, when the Prince was blessed by the 
Bishop of Adras, and, advancing to the first step of 
the altar, he knelt reverently, while Prince Joachim 
Murat and General Frossard, aided by two priests, 
spread the communion napkin before him. The ten- 
der-hearted boy was now weeping from emotion. 
Then the Archbishop continued his remarks and be- 
fore he ended, nearly everybody present was sob- 
bing. The Empress was deeply affected. At five 
o’clock that same day the Prince received the sacra- 
ment of confirmation at the hands of the Arch- 
bishop, in the presence of those who had partici- 
pated in the imposing ceremonies of the morning. 
This was a red-letter day in the spiritual life of the 
Prince Imperial, and the moral principles there 
enunciated were his guide throughout his short but 
noble existence. 

Another prelate saw fit, o3 the occasion of the 
Prince Imperial’s first communion, to pronounce a 
sermon. This intervention in the spiritual affairs of 
the Imperial family seemed all the more out of place 
because this same priest meddled in their political 
affairs with far less justice and impartiality. I refer 
to Bishop Dupanloup of Orleans, who did not always 
speak so kindly of the Bonapartes and the regime 
as he might have done. It was shortly after the 
Tuileries ceremony that the Empress was present at 
Orleans to take part in the festivities in honor of 
Jeanne d’Arc, and then it was that the Bishop seized 
the occasion to compliment her and the Prince. His 

104 



YOUTH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 

words called forth considerable comment at the 
time, and later — especially later. No donbt Bishop 
Dupanloup was sincere when he declared that he 
hoped the Empress would never “shed other tears 
than those called forth by pious emotion.” It is 
somewhat difficult, however, to reconcile the prayers 
addressed by him to Heaven in favor of the heir to 
the throne with the often hostile attitude which he 
assumed towards the Second Empire, its leaders 
and its policies. The Empress was one of the first 
to understand that the rights and claims of the 
Church should hold first place in the prelate’s mind 
and she could excuse, in a measure, his discontent 
at certain acts of the Imperial government, such as 
that concerning the Roman question. But instead of 
joining the enemies of the Empire and making com- 
mon cause with those who were trying to destroy it, 
why did he not strive to accomplish his ends in other 
ways? The Emperor spoke rightly when he said one 
day: “Speaking with all due impartiality, I think it 
fair to say that Dupanloup ’s political conduct was 
‘varied and undulating,’ as some one has well re- 
marked. It is true that he would shoot from one 
extreme to the other with the agility of an acrobat. 
"While one cannot but admire his talent and his 
moral courage, and admit the justice of many of his 
ideas, one must draw back from some of his preach- 
ments and squarely pronounce them dangerous and 
leading to division rather than to concord.” 

While instructing the young Prince in prepara- 
tion for his first communion, Abbe Deguerry had, 
without knowing it, prepared the way to a conversion. 
Miss Shaw, the devoted governess of the Prince, had 
been present at the lessons given by the curate of 

105 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

the Madeleine, and although she was an Anglican, 
she never failed to help the Prince to accomplish his 
religious duties, and especially his daily prayers. 
Two days after this first communion she went to the 
Madeleine, told the cure that she had been led to 
think very seriously about religious matters and 
now desired to become a Catholic. The Empress was 
much pleased by this spontaneous act of Miss 
Shaw’s and thus became more than ever attached to 
this excellent young woman who did so much for 
the English education of the Prince Imperial and 
who thereafter aided greatly in strengthening his 
religious convictions, which, however, were always 
firm and solid. It may be added that the Prince was 
not at all influenced by political or dynastic reasons 
in becoming and remaining a firm believer in the 
doctrines of Christianity, especially as set forth in 
the tenets of the Church of Eome. He was very 
thoughtful by nature, and often spoke, even in his 
earliest youth, of the great mystery of life, and 
always declaring that he, for his part, could find no 
satisfactory explanation of it except in the divine 
revelation of Jesus. 

It may be found interesting if I describe the 
apartments of the young Prince at the Tuileries. In 
a white and gold salon he took his lessons and re- 
ceived his friends on Thursdays and Sundays. 
Through the windows could be seen the tip of the 
sentinel’s bayonet and the white horse-tail of the 
helmet of one of the Cent Gardes, as they stood on 
duty; while further away was visible the Place du 
Carrousel, with its triumphal arch, as it stands to- 
day, and the wide Louvre square beyond. The floor 

106 



YOUTH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 


of the room -was covered with a soft white carpet of 
a flowered pattern. On the walls hnng a portrait of 
the Empress by Winterhalter, a lithograph of the 
Emperor, an engraving of the Empress’ mother and 
pictures of one of the Emperor’s fovorite horses, 
of “Boufon d’Or,” the Prince’s pony, and of his 
spaniels Finette and Finaud. On the mantelpiece 
was a clock with a circular face, on which the hours 
were indicated by the horizontal rotation of a blue 
and gold hemisphere. On the left was a piano, fitted 
with a mechanical player, which, on rainy days, 
when the Prince could not go out of doors with his 
companions, would be set going after the four 
o’clock meal, much to the pleasure of the little 
circle. This was the moment when the Empress 
generally used to come to see him and his friends. 
Miss Shaw, the English governess, says she remem- 
bers that Eugenie sometimes would put her hand 
down under the collar of his jacket and say: “How 
warm you are, Louis. Keep quiet now or you are 
sure to take cold.” I do not recall this habit, but it 
is highly probable that the Empress would act in 
this way, for the young Prince put his whole heart 
into his play, and the result was that he was often 
over-excited. 

In this same room, in a little book-case, all the 
Prince ’s books were most carefully arranged. He, of 
course, had no finely bound or showy volumes, with 
bright covers and gilt edges. They were well- 
thumbed school books, with broken corners and 
spots on them. The boy studied seriously and his 
tools showed it. On either side of the inkstand were 
two little gold busts and two ivory miniatures of the 
Emperor and the Empress. A paper-weight, I re- 

107 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

member, represented Napoleon I sitting astride of a 
chair. The Prince always treasured this object. 

The Prince’s bed-room had light blue satin on the 
walls and a ceiling frescoed in oU. The bed was an 
excellent example of marquetry decorated with 
bronze gilt ornaments. In the recess of the room 
was a picture of Hugues Merle, representing 
Eeligion protecting childhood, a gift to the Prince 
from the Due de Momy. A palm branch which had 
been blessed by the Pope was fastened to the pic- 
ture-frame. Attached to or worked into the lining of 
the bed were several sacred pictures, a silver cross, 
a large heart in old enamel and a gold medallion of 
the Blessed Virgin. I often thought of these sacred 
images of his early childhood, when, on his manly 
young body, were found the pious amulets which 
had been spared by the hands of his savage mur- 
derers. On the walls of the room were hung some 
photographs of the Prince’s boy-friends. 

Next to this bed-room was the play-room, filled 
with toys of aE sorts. I recall rocking-horses, trum- 
pets, drums, two miniature cannons brought from 
China, tin soldiers and china soldiers, and last, but 
not least, a magic-lantern, which was one of the 
boy’s delights. 

The study and work-room contained maps hung 
on the walls, drawing boards, drawing paper cov- 
ered with rough sketches or finished work, a partly 
completed bust of M. Monnier, the Prince’s tutor, 
made by the Prince while he was sitting for Car- 
peaux’s bust. 

The Prince Imperial’s day was carefully ar- 
ranged. He rose at seven o’clock, dressed, took his 
chocolate and then came to the Empress’ room, 

103 



YOUTH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


where he remained for a short time, while they 
talked over the day’s program. Next, the child 
would go and say good-morning to his father. Then 
he took a walk in the private garden of the Tuileries, 
the portion which now lies between the Rue des 
Tuileries and the main part of the Jardin des 
Tuileries and which is at present also public. Two 
full hours of study followed. Lunch occurred at half 
past eleven. Later, came gymnastics, fencing, riding 
and a walk with his tutor, who also conducted 
studies till dinner time. M. Monnier once said to 
me: “The Prince Imperial worked perseveringly 
and eagerly. He delighted in study and was fond of 
inquiry, meditation and discussion. His mind was 
seriously bent, but the intellectual tension was 
counterbalanced by the ardor he brought to rec- 
reation, games and exercise.” Before retiring, he 
again took some exercise, so that I remarked that 
his rest was always calm and refreshing. Just be- 
fore dinner, he saw his father and mother again. 

Thursdays and Sundays were the Prince Imper- 
ial’s holidays, which he spent in vigorous games, in 
long walks or in exercise on the orangery terrace at 
Saint Cloud. His boy-companions were generally 
the young Conneau, who scarcely ever left him, 
Espinasse, Joachim Murat, my brother and I, the 
two Corvisarts, Jean de Persigny and sometimes 
Jean de la Bedoyere and the two de la Poezes, who 
came to spend the day with him. The boys studied 
and played together, and just before afternoon tea, 
M. Monnier used to give them all a dictation. Often 
the Prince dined with his little friends in his dining- 
room on the ground floor of the Saint Cloud castle, 
when the bill of fare was very simple — a soup, roast 

X09 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

meat with potatoes, roast chicken, spinach or chic- 
ory, and stewed frnit or a rice pudding for desert. 

When the Prince Imperial was somewhat older, 
and had a governor and aides-de-camp, he dined on 
Thursdays and Sundays with his companions in the 
company of the Emperor and the Empress. After 
dinner, the young people would play in the Throne 
Room, whidi opened from the White Drawing- 
room, where the court sat. The Emperor used to 
take much interest in the games of the children. 
The Empress was always worried at seeing the 
Prince get so hot and excited, as was always the 
case on these occasions. But it was very hard to get 
him to stop and rest. At about half past nine the 
Prince would retire to his own apartments and go 
to bed. 

When General Frossard was appointed governor 
of the Prince Imperial, the whole system of his 
instruction was altered. M. Monnier, his preceptor, 
was replaced by M. Filon, a repetent, whose duty 
was more to see that he learned the tasks set by 
others than to give lessons himself. The Prince fol- 
lowed at home the curriculum of the state schools 
and his teachers were selected from these schools, 
several of whom, like M. Lavisse, to-day a member 
of the French Academy, who taught him history, 
became well known later. M. Filon, who was in con- 
stant contact with the lad, had a great and salutary 
influence over him. He quickly gained the confidence 
of the Prince, and being young and of pleasing ap- 
pearance, was a delightful member of the household. 
The Prince would sometimes meet with his fellow- 
students on festive occasions and at annual com- 
mencements. 


110 



YOUTH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 

The Prince’s natural, generous, and charitable 
character began to develop at this period and M. 
Pilon encouraged this tendency in his disposition. 
It was a customary habit to give him little sums of 
money from time to time, which he put aside for 
charity. Many instances of his kindness to the poor 
are given, and I particularly recall this one. I 
noticed him playing one day with his boy friends in 
the private garden of the Tuileries, when he saw, 
through the paling, a one-legged veteran in the 
street. Immediately he hurried off for his savings, 
and emptied all he had into the pocket of the old 
soldier. Again, having heard, while at the court at 
Compiegne, that there was in the forest a very old 
woman picking up dead wood for firing, and his 
store of charity money being exhausted, he passed 
round a box among the guests at the castle and soon 
had a neat little sum for the aged wood-gatherer. 
Every one was, of course, ready to give, and gold 
pieces found their way into the box. While this col- 
lection was going on, the Emperor and the Empress 
entered the drawing-room. They gently stopped the 
proceeding, explaining that guests should not be 
asked to aid the host in his works of charity. The 
child quickly saw the indelicacy of his action, re- 
turned the alms and was fully consoled when his 
parents gave him a much larger sum for his worthy 
protegee. 

I recall a striking example of the Prince Imper- 
ial’s courage and presence of mind, even when he 
was a mere child. It happened, before the war, dur- 
ing one of the sojourns at Biarritz. One October 
day we embarked on the Chamois, intending to go to 
Fontarabia, and to stop at Saint Jean de Luz on 

111 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

our way back, whence we were to drive to the Villa 
Eugenie. The first portion of the program was 
accompHshed in most magnificent weather; hut sud- 
denly, just as we were leaving the Spanish coast, the 
wind changed, the sea became very rough, and the 
little ship, beaten back by heavy waves, could make 
but httle progress. It was late at night before we 
sighted Saint Jean de Luz, when it was found im- 
possible to enter the harbor and we were advised 
to remain on board till morning. But the Empress 
knew the Emperor would be very anxious about us, 
and so she insisted that we land that night. Con- 
sequently, two open row boats were lowered. The 
first, in which were some of the suite, reached land 
without much trouble, notwithstanding the rough- 
ness of the water. But the second boat, which car- 
ried the Prince, Admiral Jurien de la Graviere and 
the Empress, struck a rock with such force that the 
pilot was thrown into the sea. It was feared that the 
frail boat might sink, so that it was necessary to 
act promptly ; consequently, the admiral, seizing the 
Prince by the hand, exclaimed : “Now we must jump 
for the rock!” Of course the Empress was very 
much frightened lest the child should miss his foot- 
ing and be crushed between the rock and the boat. 
But the boy called out bravely: “I’m not afraid, 
mother; my name is Napoleon!” Both reached the 
rock safely and greatly relieved the Empress’ mind. 
The sea now growing somewhat calmer, the crew 
finally succeeded in landing her also. When we at 
length reached the Villa, we found the whole house- 
hold wearing an anxious face. In the evening, the 
Emperor scolded the Empress a little, and the good 
admiral, whose orders had been disregarded — 

112 



YOUTH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 


othermse this incident would not have happened — 
was severely reprimanded. 

During the year 1866, malicious rumors were 
spread through the country concerning the health 
of the Prince Imperial. Hints were dropped, mys- 
teriously at first and in out of the way places, then 
in the editors’ rooms of the Opposition papers, in 
certain royalist drawing-rooms, and among the par- 
liamentary groups, to the effect that the Prince Im- 
perial was affected with scrofula, rickets, or some 
hereditary disease which marked the degeneracy of 
a dying race. No ironical or cruel word was spared 
by the enemies of the Empire, when it was known 
that the Imperial child lay for several months on a 
bed of suffering. None took the trouble to enquire 
into the real cause of his illness, and all preferred to 
scoff at the constitution of the heir to the throne. 
On the contrary, however, the Prince had an excel- 
lent constitution and possessed a thoroughly healthy 
system, which was, moreover, maintained in good 
condition by excellent hygienic surroundings, and by 
all the exercise possible with due regard to his age 
and to the pursuance of his studies, which were 
already somewhat arduous. 

He was quick, vivacious, and clever at all exer- 
cises ; a good horseman, bold in obstacle races, and 
fond of following the hunt at Compiegne. His rid- 
ing master, M. Bachon, an excellent native of Gas- 
cony, succeeded in amusing the child while initiating 
him into the difficulties of the equestrian art. There 
was no need to teach him courage, however, for the 
young Prince was already brave to foolhardiness. 
He was bom with a true noalitary instinct, and had 

113 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS ETJOENIE 


a real passion for everything that related to the 
army. He was clever at fencing, and loved gymnas- 
tics above everything. A moment of absent-minded- 
ness while on the trapeze was, in fact, the cause of 
the terrible accident which placed his life in jeop- 
ardy, and gave rise to the mischievous insinuations 
just referred to. 

The site where the Prince’s gymnasium stood can 
still he seen in the old park of Saint Cloud, near the 
Bassin des Trois Bouillons, at the far end of the 
Allee des Goulottes. This little shaded circus had 
been specially transformed into a place for recrea- 
tion. When there was not sufficient time to go to 
the Trocadero Garden or the Chinese Kiosque, both 
of which were in the Saint Cloud park, the Prince 
played with his little boy friends in this spot. They 
would hasten to the Allee des Goulottes and amuse 
themselves with bow and arrow, shooting at artificial 
pigeons, or exercising on the parallel bars and the 
other apparatus of the gymnasium. Sometimes the 
little miniature railway would have their preference. 

This railroad, by the way, was laid out in the form 
of a figure eight. Its diameter was something over 
six yards and it was furnished with everything that 
a weU-constructed line can have — such as signals 
and switches, which were most artistically made, 
and even passenger and goods stations. The train, 
modeled after the imperial train, was composed of 
a locomotive and several oars, the latter containing 
drawing-rooms, a dining-room, and upholstered bed- 
rooms. The locomotive was worked by a very strong 
spring. The most remarkable thing about the train 
was that the axles were fitted into sliding journals 
in such a maimer that very short curves could be 

U4 



YOUTH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 


made, thus avoiding the necessity of additional 
wheels like those which were used on the old railway 
that ran between Sceaux and Paris. It is not a mat- 
ter of surprise that the mainspring was frequently 
broken or strained, for the Prince and his compan- 
ions usually considered that the best method of 
winding up the machinery was to sit on the loco- 
motive and make it work backwards. 

One hot day in July, shortly after luncheon, the 
Prince was alone at his trapeze while his tutor, M. 
Monnier, seated some little distance away, was com- 
pletely absorbed in a book, the child thus being left 
quite to his own devices. This lack of attention on 
the part of the tutor was a source of danger to the 
Prince, who was always over-bold, and the very 
knowledge that there was a risk anywhere was a 
sufficient incentive to make him wish to confront it. 
On this occasion a rather bad fall was the result, 
though he suffered no serious injury from it. 

Here is another example of the rather dare-devil 
spirit of the boy. One day on returning from a ride, 
he got down from his horse in the Tuileries court- 
yard, and then took it into his head, while his tutor 
was talking with a third person, to climb up to the 
balcony of the Salle des Marechaux, clinging to the 
face of the waU by the help of the projecting 
stones. M. Monnier, looking up at this moment, 
realized the danger, spoke gently to the Prince and 
persuaded him to come down by telling him that the 
guard was watching him, and that his behavior was 
not becoming. 

But the accident which caused his illness was not 
due to any lack of care on the part of tutor or serv- 
ants. The Prince was standing on the trapeze, 

115 



MEMOIBS OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

swinging quietly, when he saw the Empress, driving 
in her pony-chaise, coming towards him. “Maman! 
maman!” he cried, “see how clever I am on the 
trapeze !” While saying this, he slid his hands down 
the cords, and holding on by his feet to the two 
angles of the trapeze, he swung himself forward and 
back, head downwards. Suddenly, his feet slipped 
and he fell sideways to the ground. The Empress 
was, of course, greatly frightened when she did not 
see him rise, and the attendants, hurrying to him, 
found he had lost consciousness. What had hap- 
pened? We asked ourselves with deep anxiety 
whether there was congestion due to the sudden in- 
terruption of digestion, a torn muscle or a broken 
bone? Apparently, there was nothing serious; for 
when Dr. Corvisart, whom the Empress herself 
hastened to fetch, arrived, the Prince had regained 
consciousness and declared that he had no bones 
broken and felt no pain whatever. Though out- 
wardly no harm was done, there was evidently some 
internal injury. But this was discovered only in 
March when the Prince, unable to hide his sufferings 
any longer, began to limp. But not wishing to alarm 
his father and mother, he forced himself to appear 
brighter than usual, and only half admitted that he 
was in pain, until at last the effort of walking be- 
came too great for him. The Empress was indeed 
considerably alarmed. She had the child im- 
mediately put to bed, and a consultation was held 
by Drs. Nelaton and Barther, which revealed the 
nature of the malady. It was found that a deep- 
seated abscess had formed, and a surgical operation 
became imperative. At length it was officially an- 
nounced that the Prince was better, and the work- 

116 



YOUTH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 


men at the Trocadero — ^the garden on the high ter- 
race just north of the castle of those days — ^prepared 
a novel kind of festival for the anniversary of March 
16th, the Prince’s birthday. In the meanwhile, it 
was announced that a children’s ball which the 
Grand Equerry was to give in honor of the Prince 
had been postponed; so, when it was known that the 
Emperor and Empress appeared on the 16th in the 
Trocadero without the Prince Imperial, public anxi- 
ety became general; and, when with the cry of 
“Vive le Prince Imperial,” the workmen filed past, 
the imperial couple made every effort to hide their 
uneasiness concerning their son. 

The first operation was not entirely successful 
and the doctors decided to make another .effort. The 
Prince, forgetful of his own pain, and thinking only 
of the anxious hours his mother had spent lately, 
begged that she might be kept in ignorance of the 
surgeons’ decision. He refused to be chloroformed, 
and this boy, who had only just turned twelve, 
astounded the surgeons by his calm courage. 

Burners unfriendly to the regime were spread 
among the people, and the Prince’s illness was ex- 
aggerated at the very time when the danger had 
begun to abate. But the Empress insisted on the 
public’s being correctly informed, and reassuring 
notices appeared in the press. The general uneasi- 
ness revived, however, when it was admitted that 
the Prince, though cured, was not considered to be 
sufficiently strong to accompany his parents on the 
opening day of the international exhibition, April 
1, 1867. 

The republicans and the other enemies of the 
Second Empire made all the political capital they 

117 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


could out of this incident which would have passed 
almost unnoticed under ordinary circumstances. 
But all these unscrupulous agitators knew that 
Napoleon HI without an heir, or with an heir with 
a sickly constitution, was lessened in the eyes not 
only of the common people, but in the world of 
business, where a solid government, especially in 
Prance, is so necessary for the progress of trade 
and industry. So we always watched over the Prince 
with the greatest solicitude, not only because of our 
natural love for him, but in the interest of France. 
If he had lived and come to the throne, I feel sure 
that the world would have certainly recognized in 
him a strong and enlightened ruler. 

It was decided in the early summer of 1867 that 
the Prince should be taken to Saint Cloud, where the 
air was better than at the Tuileries. So he was 
carried there on a camp-bedstead, accompanied by 
the Emperor and the Empress. Instead of the 
apartment on the ground floor which he had always 
occupied heretofore, he was installed in a suite on 
the second floor, which was considered more healthy. 
Nearly every day the Empress drove over from 
Paris to see him, and she saw that the little invalid 
should be surrounded with every mark of tender- 
ness. At Saint Cloud he immediately began to make 
rapid progress in a general building up. There the 
Prince heard the echoes of the fetes given in honor 
of all the foreign sovereigns who visited the Exhibi- 
tion. It was one of his fondest amusements to wit- 
ness from afar these festivities, which sometimes 
took the shape of fireworks. He also long remem- 
bered the distinguished personages whom he met at 
this period. One after another of the crowned" 

118 



YOUTH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


guests of tlie Emperor stopped at Saint Cloud eitlier 
on their way to Versailles or when coming back from 
that town. 

In June, 1867, a few days after the attempt made 
by Berezowski on the life of the King of Prussia 
and the Emperor Alexander, they came to the pal- 
ace. The post-chaise stopped before the Pavilion de 
Valois, where the relay horses were waiting. I well 
remember, that, on this occasion, the Emperor, the 
King of Prussia and the Emperor Alexander were 
on the front seat, and the Empress, a court-lady and 
Count Bismarck were on the back seat. While the 
horses were being changed — a very rapid operation 
in the Emperor’s stables — ^word was sent to General 
Frossard to bring the Prince Imperial, in order that 
he might be presented to the royal visitors. In a 
few moments the boy appeared, and advanced 
toward the carriage, limping slightly. Helped by 
General Frossard, he mounted the step, when the 
Emperor of Russia bent over and, raising the child 
in his arms, kissed him affectionately on both 
cheeks. More reserved. King William merely shook 
hands with him. The Czar then lifted bim up a 
second time, and passed him over the hand bar so 
that he might kiss the Empress, who was much 
moved by this touching scene and never forgot it. 
Thereupon the King of Prussia turned to take an- 
other good look at the Prince, and Bismarck also 
intently scanned the child, while a smile, which he 
sought to render as gracious as possible, was on his 
lips. He seemed trying to read the future in store 
for the Imperial boy. The spontaneous action of the 
Czar on this occasion, the graceful bearing of the 
heir to the throne of France, and the German Chan- 

119 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


cellor’s expression are things wMeli the Emperor 
and the Empress sometimes referred to in after 
years, and the recollection of the memorable scene 
■was •vi'vidly retained by all the members of the 
Court who "witnessed it. 

A few days later, General Frossard said to the 
Empress : 

“When the Prince and I were walking back to his 
apartments after this presentation he remarked to 
me in a very earnest tone : 

“ ‘Well, when I see these great rulers, I feel that 
I have much to accomplish in order to fit myself 
properly to do what they are doing. Do you really 
think. General, that I can some day be able enough 
to govern such a grand country as this?’ 

“ ‘Why, certainly, and why not?’ I iuquired. 

“ ‘Because they must know so much.’ 

“ ‘But years and your books will make you like 
them. ’ 

“ ‘Then, I will pitch into my books "with renewed 
ardor, and let the Bon Dieu look out for the years.’ 

“And the fact is that the Prince has studied "with 
fresh energy since that interview. We will see now 
what the Bon Dieu does in the way of years.” 

The General died before the tragedy cut short the 
life of his eager pupiL 



CHAPTER VI 


THE PEINCE imperial’s “BAPTISM OP PIEB” 

It has often been said by the enemies of the 
Second Empire that the conflict of 1870 was precipi- 
tated by the French government in order to gain 
new glory for the Imperial family and thus assure 
the continuation of the reign on the person of the 
young Prince. Of course there is no truth in this 
shameful assertion. But what is true is that this 
unfortunate struggle once begun, it was the wish of 
the Emperor and the Empress, that the Prince Im- 
perial, mere child though he was, he identified with 
the war so far as was possible. Steps were im- 
mediately taken to carry out this plan. 

After the departure for the seat of war in 1870 of 
the regiments at Saint Cloud, only a squadron of 
lancers and a battalion of light horse remained 
behind. A few days before he left to join the army, 
the Prince Imperial, accompanied by Captain Du- 
perre, his aide-de-camp, visited these men at the 
barracks. It was about five o ’clock and the soldiers 
had just finished rubbing down their horses. At the 
Prince’s request Sergeant Baillehache conducted 
him through the men’s dormitories and over the 
stables. The young Prince, who was wearing a top 
hat and a short black coat with high white collar, was 
deeply interested in everything he saw, and showed 
plainly that he was proud of the fact that he was 

121 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

soon going to the front; so none of the soldiers were 
surprised to hear him suddenly exclaim, while con- 
versing with the quarter-master: “Did you know 
that I also am going?” This was said with all the 
delight of a child at the fulfilment of a long 
cherished wish. 

The light horsemen had been informed of his 
intended visit and were standing to receive him, 
each at the foot of his bed in the dormitory, cap in 
hand, wearing the full-dress tunic with yellow braid- 
ing. As he passed into the court yard, which was 
filled with serried rows of light horse and lancers, 
he was enthusiastically cheered. The cheers fol- 
lowed him, in fact, all the way up the slope to the 
castle, and it was with considerable emotion and 
keen pleasure that he gave the Empress the details 
of this visit. I remember still how delighted 
she was with the manly enthusiasm of the boy, 
though I will confess that she was saddened at the 
thought of his early departure for the seat of war, 
where, notwithstanding every precaution, the 
mother knew he was sure to run great risks. 

The Prince Imperial heard many more cheers the 
day before his departure. A luncheon was offered 
to the entire garrison of Saint Cloud and to the 
detachment of the Cent Gardes stationed at Sevres. 
The tables were spread in the yard of the barracks 
where all drank the health of the heir to the Im- 
perial throne and the youth of fourteen was loudly 
acclaimed. Later, as he passed through the ranks, 
clothed in the uniform of a second lieutenant, his 
hand resting proudly on the hilt of his sword, and 
the nodlitary medal shining on his breast, many eyes 
were dimmed with tears. This is one of the most 

122 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 


sadly sweet memories that I cherish — ^this young lad 
so full of promise, the loud cheering of the men, 
hopes of success in every breast, confidence in the 
future; and then, on the reverse side of the medal, 
disaster, exile and the tragedy of Zululand. 

On the day following this banquet the Emperor 
and the Prince Imperial left for the army. In the 
private part of the park, near the railroad from 
Sevres to Montretout, one may yet see a mushroom- 
shaped shelter, roofed with thatch and surrounded 
by iron candelabra. This was called “the Emper- 
or’s station,” and from this spot the imperial train 
was accustomed to set forth when the sovereign left 
Saint Cloud for a journey. 

The palace of Saint Cloud was very animated on 
the morning of July 28, 1870. Princess Mathilde, 
Prince Napoleon and Princess Clotilde, Prince and 
Princess Murat, Prince and Princess Bonaparte, the 
high officers who were leaving with the Imperial 
party, the ministers, ladies and officers of the house- 
hold, a few intimate friends invited for the farewell 
— all these were gathered at the castle on this beauti- 
ful summer day. 

About ten o’clock the carriages entered the gar- 
dens situated in front of the private apartments, and 
shortly afterwards the Emperor, wearing the un- 
dress uniform of a general, came forth from the 
Salon Vernet accompanied by the Empress and the 
Prince Imperial. Apparently very calm, the Em- 
peror spoke’ to all present. Much moved but 
striving not to show her emotion the Empress 
himg hack somewhat, while the Prince Im- 
perial, gracefully wearing the uniform of a second 
lieutenant of the Guard, went from one person to 

123 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


another, chatting rather excitedly bnt thinking in 
this way to appear at ease. Yet the emotion of that 
child of fourteen, with his affectionate and tender 
nature, on the eve of leaving his mother for the 
first time, was wholly excusable. 

At the extremity of the terrace, the Emperor and 
the Empress got into our carriage, and soon all the 
other carriages were filled with the officers, minis- 
ters, and friends. A few of the invited guests were 
on foot. Soon all were gathered around the “mush- 
room.” The parting moment at length had come. 
The Emperor got into the train and the rest of the 
party began to do likewise. There was a ceaseless 
succession of brilliant uniforms, for besides the 
aides-de-camp and orderlies who were to accompany 
the Emperor, he also had with him Major General 
Lehoeuf, and Generals Douai, Lebrun, de Failly, 
Bourbaki and Frossard, who were starting to join 
their various corps. “Why, it is like a regiment 
leaving!” exclaimed the Emperor to the Empress, 
endeavoring to force a smile. 

A friend has written : 

“The Empress, deeply moved, stood on the plat- 
form, trying with great effort to hide her emotion 
and to appear calm in the midst of the anguish she 
felt as mother and wife. Then, there were her 
anxieties as regent, on whom was to weigh the heavy 
burden of a crown which might topple over at the 
slightest touch and crush her in its fall. Once again 
she kissed the Emperor and her son. The Prince 
gave her a last affectionate clinging embrace, and 
turned to shake hands with those around him, while 
the Emperor closely scanned those who surrounded 
him, lest he might have overlooked some one to 

124 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 

whom he had not said farewell. Thns he perceived 
one of his chamberlains, and exclaimed: ‘Ah! du 
Manoir, I have not said good-by to yon.’ 

“These were the Emperor’s last words at Saint 
Cloud, for the signal for starting had been given 
and the train, with a loud, shrill whistle, slowly 
began to move off. ‘Always do your duty, Louis,’ 
said the Empress at this moment in a voice choked 
with emotion; and, at the same moment every one 
uncovered, while a loud cry of ‘Long live the Em- 
peror!’ arose. It was the last time that this shout 
was raised at the palace of Saint Cloud. 

“The Emperor, leaning out of the carriage win- 
dow, threw a farewell kiss to the Empress, who 
remained motionless, her eyes fixed on the husband 
whom fate was dragging from her, and on the son 
leaving her so young, to become the sport of cir- 
cumstances. The Emperor’s sad, kind face was seen 
until the train reached the gateway where the 
branch joins the main line. Then he crossed to the 
other side of the carriage and bowed to the inhabi- 
tants of Montretout who had assembled to cheer him 
and wave their farewell. 

“At the last moment, just before the train quite 
disappeared, a handkerchief was seen fluttering 
from one of the car windows. It was the Prince Im- 
perial thus sending a last good-by to his mother, 
and to Prance ! Then the turning of the road hid all 
from sight and the Empress shook off the stupor 
which had seized her. Walking towards her car- 
riage, she gave free vent to her emotion and, hiding 
her face in her handkerchief, sobbed bitterly. And 
thus ended this sad separation with all its lament- 
able aftermath.” 


125 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

On August 2 , 1870, the Emperor, with his son by 
his side, was present at the engagement of Sarre- 
bruck. This was the Prince Imperial’s “baptism of 
fire,” a fact which was sneeringly criticized by the 
enemies of the Empire, but which the Emperor 
hastened to announce to the Empress by telegram. 
Notwithstanding her very natural anxiety and grief 
at being separated from her boy, she considered it 
only right that he should be at the Emperor’s side 
on such an occasion. 

After that very insignificant victory came a series 
of disasters which followed one another in startling 
and discouraging succession. The feverish anxiety 
of the first days changed now to dull, aching 
anguish ; there seemed indeed to be no lining to the 
cloud, and hope appeared but a vain word. On 
August 14th the Emperor and Prince left Metz, 
spent the night of the 15th at Gravelotte in a very 
modest inn, and, at four in the morning, accom- 
panied only by two followers, they got into a post- 
chaise, escorted by a platoon of the Cent Gardes. 
The officers of the military household followed in 
two other carriages. 

Just before they left. Marshal Bazalne came to 
speak with the Emperor. Bazaine’s one desire was 
to get rid of the Emperor, and with this object in 
view, he delayed the army’s march towards Verdun. 
He naturally felt a great responsibility in having 
with him the Emperor and Prince Imperial; but if 
they had remained with him, the probability is that 
Bazaine’s after career would have been very dif- 
ferent from what it was, and certainly more honor- 
able to him and less unfortunate to the noble French 
army under his baneful command. 

126, 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 

The post-chaise started toAvard Verdun, preceded, 
as has been said, by the Gardes, and follo'wed by two 
squadrons of lancers. On reaching Doncourt, the 
latter were replaced by a portion of the African 
corps of General Margueritte, commanded by 
Colonel de Galliffet. Several times the Emperor 
mentioned this satisfaction at seeing the Marquis de 
Galliffet at the head of the escort, and assured him 
that, in the midst of his soldiers, he felt no anxiety 
regarding his son’s safety. 

And yet there was considerable danger. The 
enemy was so near at hand that the lancers had, 
while returning to their camp, a skirmish with a troop 
of German scouts. A few miles further on, while 
lunching at Etain, the Emperor and his escort nar- 
rowly escaped being taken prisoners. But they 
finally reached Verdun safely at nine o’clock, where 
no time was lost, as it was desirable to reach 
Chalons as quickly as possible in the hope of meet- 
ing the fragments of MaoMahon’s army and the 
other troops who were to try to relieve Bazaine 
from his desperate situation. The Emperor and the 
Prince Imperial took the train, therefore, at eleven 
o’clock at night and arrived at Chalons at daybreak. 
The Prince visited the camp, and was enthus- 
iastically greeted everywhere in spite of the con- 
fusion in the ranks and the bad news constantly 
received. This warm welcome at Chalons was one of 
the last pleasant remembrances he had of those sad 
days. More than once in after years, he spoke of it 
with the Emperor and the Empress, when, which 
rarely happened, they went over again that dark 
epoch during our English exile. 

On August 21st the Emperor readied Courcelles, 

127 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


near Reims, where he received, on the following day, 
a visit from M. Ronher and Marshal MacMahon, 
with whom he discussed various plans in view of 
future events. A few minutes after the departure of 
M. Rouher on August 23rd, the detachment of the 
Cent Gardes was ordered to escort the Prince Im- 
perial to Rethel, where the Prince stopped at the 
Sub-Prefect’s residence. A dinner was given in his 
honor, at which he “conducted himself in a manner 
that would have done credit to a full-grown man,” 
said to the Empress, later, one of those present. 

The Emperor came on the following day, by way 
of BetheniviUe, and, until August 27th, remained 
with the Prince Imperial at Tourteron, on the road 
between Rethel and Sedan. The Emperor was 
naturally loath to quit his son, but military and 
dynastic interests both demanded this sacrifice; so 
it was at Tourteron that the Emperor and Prince 
Imperial finally separated, Napoleon going to Le 
Chesne, while the Prince left for Mezieres, with 
Captain Uuperre, Comte Clary, Major Lamey, and 
Viseomte d’Aure, as equerry. A corporal and two 
men preceded them, whole Lieutenant Watrin rode 
on the right of the carriage. 

On Sunday, the 28th, they passed through Sedan, 
where they witnessed an uncalled for panic, which 
awakened the growing suspicions of the young 
Prince that all was not going well. On the road near 
Vrigne-aux-Bois, they met an ambulance. The 
Prince requested it to halt, enquired after the 
wounded and gave the men some money. What he 
was told by these poor fellows confirmed his sus- 
picions. He felt pretty sure that all was not well; 
but he said nothing. On Monday, the 29th, they 

128 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 

reached Mezieres, where they did not stop but went 
on the next day through Avesnes and Landreoies, 
where the Prince was loudly and enthusiastically 
dheered. These cheers gave the boy fresh hopes ; his 
spirits were kept up by the novelty of the surround- 
ings, and the continual change of place, view and 
people. “He charmed us all by his good nature and 
seriousness,” said one of his companions to me 
later; “though he intuitively felt that something 
was wrong, he discreetly put no awkward questions, 
which was not the least praiseworthy peculiarity of 
his conduct under these most trying circumstances. ’ ’ 

The whole party suffered the greatest anxiety all 
the time during this journey, which was of necessity 
accomplished in a very stealthy and round-about 
manner. On Sunday came the news of the disaster 
at Sedan, which, of course, augmented this nervous- 
ness and rendered it still harder to keep the truth 
from the intelligent Prince. As long as possible this 
last catastrophe was hidden from him, and he flatly 
refused at first to join in the retreating movement. 
The secret was still kept, and for two days longer he 
remained ignorant of the defeat in the Ardennes 
and the revolution at Paris. 

There has been much discussion over the reasons 
that prompted Captain Duperre to order those in 
the suite of the Prince to say nothing to him of out- 
side events. Those who were familiar, however, with 
the chivalrous character of the yoimg heir, readily 
understood why such a course had been adopted. 
“He did not merely like danger, he adored it,” has 
very justly been remarked by M. Filon, the former 
tutor of the Prince Imperial ; and everything was to 
be feared with a youth of his temperament. Con- 

129 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


seqnently, the Emperor and the Empress always 
approved heartily of the condnet of this worthy ofS- 
oer in this particular. The Prince Imperial himself 
used to say of him that he never knew a finer speci- 
men of the devoted and thorough military gentle- 
man. “If it had not been for his good sense and 
clear-sightedness,” the Prince once remarked, “we 
might have never reached England; anyway, I 
would have been far more depressed than I was if 
he had not kept from my ears all the exaggerated 
and often absolutely false rumours which were 
rained on us from all sides.” 

The welcome which the Prince received at Mau- 
beuge from Mme. Marchant, widow of the distin- 
guished Senator of the Empire, was most touching. 
“I felt that I could not do too much for the noble 
boy,” wrote this excellent woman to the Empress at 
a much later period; “and he was so grateful for 
my little attention that I was moved to tears. The 
Prince Imperial had a fine solid character and would 
have made a model ruler of men.” 

The Sub-Prefect of Avesnes, M. Eichebe, was 
complimented by Captain Duperre on the enthu- 
siasm manifested by the inhabitants of his town, 
which plainly showed what a strong hold the Em- 
pire had on the people. In fact, this popular in- 
terest taken in the Prince was a source of real em- 
barrassment to the escort. Cheered everywhere on 
his passage, his presence was known to everybody, 
and it was difficult to see how the young Prince with 
his little escort would be able to leave France un- 
molested, if the new Government at Paris or the 
active German army should decide to stop his flight. 
The orders which had been received from the Im- 

130 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 


perial authorities read: “Leave immediately for 
Belgium.” They came in the form of a telegram 
from M. Filon, who was carrying out the instruc- 
tions of the Regency. It was naturally felt by the 
friends of the Empire that with the Empress and 
the Prince Imperial safe, “anything was possible 
in the chaos which then reigned in France,” as a 
friend remarked. 

When it was announced to the Prince Imperial 
that he must quit French soil, he naturally objected; 
but when at last he found he must submit, he quietly 
climbed into the break which was to take him and 
his officers to Feignies and bade a touching fare- 
well to Watrin. But he said nothing. “The boy’s 
big heart was too full to speak,” said one of the 
escort. The fugitives went by train from Feignies 
to Mons, where again the Prince Imperial showed 
signs of rebellion, and it was not without difficulty 
that his objections were overcome. It should be 
borne in mind that he knew nothing of what had oc- 
curred, and could not understand exactly why he 
was requested, or rather made, to leave France. In 
vain he begged the officers to disregard the orders 
which had now come both from Paris and Sedan; 
in vain he questioned all around him, trying to ob- 
tain some clew; but he finally yielded to Duperre’s 
firm determination to obey instructions. 

At Mons they found it impossible to get a car- 
riage when they reached the station. The Prince 
and his escort had to walk to the Crown Hotel, 
where, in 1806, Louis Napoleon, his grandfather, 
had stopped, and where, in 1810, Napoleon and Ma- 
rie Louise stayed on the way to Laeken. This fact 
was noted by the Prince in a little diary kept during 

131 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

his early years. A compact crowd filled the square 
in front of the hotel and comments of all sorts filled 
the air. But everything said was of a respectful 
nature and the people showed much sympathy for 
the unfortunate hoy and his faithful escort. 

After a short rest at Mons, preparations were 
made for continuing the journey. According to fur- 
ther instructions telegraphed by the Emperor, Cap- 
tain Duperre again gave the signal to depart, and 
in order to mislead the waiting people who desired 
to see once again the fugitives, the Prince and his 
party were driven to the station in the hotel omni- 
bus. “That shows a democratic spirit,” remarked 
one of the bystanders as they drove up to the train. 
“I like that,” said another; “the Bonapartes are 
not afraid to remind the public now and then of 
their popular origin.” The Prince Imperial, who 
noted these remarks himself, smiled pleasantly when 
he heard them. A special train was in readiness for 
him, and in order to hide their real movements from 
the crowd, the Prince and his suite got into another 
train which was standing in the station. They sim- 
ply passed through this train by the opposite door 
and entered the special for Verviers. This hap- 
pened on September 4th, at eight in the evening, 
and at one o’clock the train stopped at Namur, 
where further instructions were awaited. 

The Emperor, a prisoner and on his way to Oas- 
sel, had hoped to meet his son at Verviers, and, for 
an instant, hnagined that the Prince might, for a 
few days at least, be a temporary prisoner with him. 
But the instructions received by the Prussian gen- 
eral who accompanied the Emperor destroyed aU 
these pleasant expectations. Therefore, the Em- 

132 



THE PllINCE’S “BAPTISM OP FIRE” 

peror sadly gave orders to Comte Clary, who had 
come to meet him, while the Prince Imperial was 
at Namur, that the latter should go to England, 
crossing by Ostend and Dover. 

Up to this point, as has already been said, the 
Prince Imperial had been kept in ignorance of the 
tragedy which had just occurred. But now, with the 
assistance of Comte de Baillet, Governor of Namur, 
Captain Duperre and Comte Clary explained to the 
child all that had taken place — the Emperor a pris- 
oner, the Empire overthrown, his mother on the 
road to England, the German arms victorious on all 
sides. The boy heard these dreadful revelations 
without uttering a word. It has been said that he 
gave vent to certain expressions of sorrow and re- 
gret, but this is untrue. For a long time he re- 
mained silent, drawing himself up proudly and stif- 
fening every muscle against the cruel anguish which 
oppressed him. When the time came to sit down to 
table, he was pale but cahn and barely touched 
the food which was put before him. On leaving his 
host, the Governor, the Prince thanked him most 
warmly and asked how he could show his gratitude. 
“By two lines of your writing. Highness,” said 
Comte de Baillet. Then the Prince slowly wrote with 
a firm hand on a sheet of paper these words: “Af- 
fectionate and grateful remembrances. Namur, Sep- 
tember 5, 1870. Louis Napoleon.” 

At three o’clock that afternoon a carriage drew 
up before a small gate leading into the Namur sta- 
tion. The Prince jumped out with a light step and 
walked rapidly to the station-master’s office, where 
he awaited the departure of the train, talking mean- 
while affably with Colonel Goffinet, Military Com- 

133 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


mander of Namur, and "witli Colonel Beretzy. One 
of these gentlemen wrote in a private letter a few 
days afterwards : “You would never have imagined 
from his words and manner that this lad had learned 
for the first time, hut an hour or so before, that 
his parents were prisoners or fugitives like himself 
and that the throne on which he had expected to 
sit one day was broken to pieces. The Prince Im- 
perial was a man at fourteen.” 

When the Prince appeared on the platform, 
women bowed low and men silently uncovered with 
a feeling of genuine pity and sympathy for this 
youth, who, pale and calm, returned their courtesies 
with a sad smile that spoke volumes. “At the same 
time there was a certain manly dignity about him,” 
said one of the on-lookers, “that would have at- 
tracted attention even if he had not been associated 
with such a terrible political catastrophe.” 

At eight that evening the Prince and his friends 
reached Ostend station, where his approaching ar- 
rival had been announced by telegraph. As many 
people were gathered there out of idle curiosity to 
see the fallen Prince, he asked to be permitted to 
leave the station by a little gate which faced the 
hotel where he was to stop. There was some delay in 
opening this gate, so the Prince, boy-like, quietly 
climbed over it, much to the surprised admiration 
of a few bystanders. At Ostend he spent one night 
in the Hotel d’Allemagne, and on the following day 
a boat from the yacht, Sea-Bird, belonging to Count 
Dumonoeau, carried the Prince to the steamer, the 
Count of Flanders, commanded by Lieutenant 
Gerard. Shutting himself in the cabin occupied by 
the Belgian king when he makes this crossing, 

134 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 

Prince Louis came on deck only when the boat had 
left the harbor, the expectant crowd waiting in 
vain to catch a glance of him. Five hours later the 
steamer reached Dover. The young Prince got into 
the special train which was to take him to Hastings, 
where, on the following day the Empress, who had 
crossed from Deauville to Ryde on Sir John Bur- 
goyne’s yacht, drew her beloved son to her arms, 
and there, shortly afterwards, they received the 
news of Napoleon’s arrival at Wilhelmshohe. This 
meeting, after so many anxious days of separation, 
was balm to the hearts of both mother and son. 

Princess Murat, the Duchesse de Mouchy, the wife 
of Marshal Canrobert, the Marquis de Lavalette, the 
Due de Gramont and other important and faithful 
members of the household hastened to join them in 
England, and, at the end of the week, M. Filon was 
again to be found at his pupil’s side, much to the 
comfort of the Prince Imperial, who was deeply at- 
tached to this learned and affable young scholar. A 
few weeks later M. Filon asked to be admitted into 
the ranks of the army of the Loire, but Gambetta 
caused him to be arrested and sent back to Eng- 
land, where he remained with the Prince until the 
.latter’s death. 

This month’s terrible experiences made an indeli- 
ble impression on the fresh heart of the young 
Prince. It was the first time that he had been sepa- 
rated from his family and that his quiet and well- 
ordered home life had been disturbed. It was his 
initial plunge into the real existence of the real 
world, a plunge made under most extraordinary cir- 
cumstances. He had been long studying military 
science, reading about the great Napoleon’s famous 

135 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

campaigns and, in a word, playing at war. During 
this fateful month of August, 1870, he had caught 
glimpses of actual warfare, had heard the firing of 
death-bearing cannon and had looked into the faces 
of men wounded on the battle-field. These scenes 
completed his military education and made a soldier 
of him. Here was received the initial incentive 
which carried him to South Africa and to his tragic 
death. It was also during this campaign of 1870 
that he underwent his first great sorrow and under- 
went it alone, in “the isolation of self”; for rare is 
the case of a hoy of his tender age having to bear 
up alone against such cruel blows of misfortune 
as those which assailed him in the first days of Sep- 
tember, when he learned of the disasters which had 
befallen France and the Empire. “In the two short 
months of August and September, 1870, 1 developed 
more mentally than I developed bodily,” he once 
said, “during the whole seven years from fourteen 
to my majority.” And all those who knew the 
Prince Imperial intimately will agree with this as- 
sertion. 

In the early seventies the restoration of the Im- 
perial regime seemed imminent to many minds both 
inside and outside of Prance. In 1874 the first anni- 
versary of the Emperor’s death was widely and feel- 
ingly observed, and on March 16th of the same year 
the constitutional majority — eighteen — of the 
Prince Imperial was enthusiastically celebrated at 
Chislehurst. He performed his part in the proceed- 
ings with great dignity, manliness and composure. 
The Empress stood at his side, surrounded by aU 
the dignitaries and ladies of the former court, when 

136 



THE PEINCE’S “BAPTISM OP FIRE” 


the time came for him to deliver his speech. The 
young man mastered his emotion and read his dec- 
laration in a firm voice. His mother was never 
more proud of him than at the moment when he 
concluded. She felt that ho had passed through the 
ordeal successfully, and this mother’s judgment, so 
apt to be too partial, was confirmed immediately by 
the plaudits of the large concourse of friends and 
supporters. Barely had the last words been pro- 
nounced, when the vast crowd began to press to- 
ward the platform on which the Prince stood, and 
so great was the crush, that it was with consider- 
able difficulty that he got safely back into the house. 
In fact, it looked for the minute as though the 
Prince would be borne away on the shoulders of the 
excited multitude. But finally the people calmed 
down, and then began the curious and interesting 
reception of the various delegations. I particularly 
remember the representatives of the Paris market 
women, with that characteristic Mme. Lebon at their 
head. When she reached the Prince, she kissed him 
on both cheeks, and, somewhat confused, said to 
him: “Your Majesty may be interested to know 
that twenty-two years ago — ^before you were bom — 
I saluted in this same way the Emperor, at the ball 
given by the market committee.” We were much 
amused at the title which the good woman gave to 
the Prince. “It showed what she was thinking,” 
remarked the Prince at the dinner which followed. 
“She was only a little too ‘previous,’ ” added a san- 
guine but prudent guest. 

That a strong current of opinion in favor of the 
Prince was begirming to show itself caimot be de- 
nied. Some of the friends who had come over from 

137 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

France and now saw him for the first time since 
he began to pass from boyhood to manhood, ex- 
pressed surprise that he should remain in a foreign 
land instead of returning to France with them. The 
Empress felt, however, that it would be unwise to 
go to work so rapidly. She urged moderation on 
those who showed too much ardor. Deeply wounded 
by all the insults and all the injustices which had 
been heaped upon the Emperor and herself since 
the war, it was hard for her to believe that the move- 
ment which had commenced in 1872 and which had 
been momentarily cheeked by the death of the Em- 
peror and the youth of the Prince Imperial, was 
now really taking solid form. But gradually she 
began to realize that the dream was becoming a 
reality and that the day was drawing near when the 
Prince Imperial might become “necessary.” Eu- 
genie was chiefly brought round to this view by the 
reiterated statements to this effect which came from 
the generals, the ecclesiastics and, of course, from 
the politicians who came over to England in increas- 
ing numbers after the brilliant ceremonies of March 
16th. 

I ought to add right here that there is no truth in 
the assertion which has been so often made that 
the Prince Imperial and the Empress were not in 
accord at this time. The Prince continued his mili- 
tary studies at Woolwich, but on holidays he would 
receive men of influence in the Bonapartist party, 
by whom he was kept well informed concerning the 
whole political situation in France and outside of 
the country. They were both agreed in regard to 
his line of conduct. Anybody who is at all acquaint- 
ed with the home life at Chislehurst knows that they 

138 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 

worked together for the best interests of the regime ; 
hut they must not be held responsible for the differ- 
ences of opinion which unquestionably existed in 
the party and which both strove to assuage. Some 
of the more energetic leaders did not approve of the 
rather temporizing policy of M. Rouher and would 
have preferred seeing a more aggressive man at the 
head of the Bonaparte interests. The Duke of 
Padua was often put forward for this post. So was 
G-eneral Fleury, who had shown so much devotion to 
the Bonapartes and the cause. There had been a 
time when these two excellent men were not on 
friendly terms. But both realized that if the Bona- 
partes were to succeed, there must be union in rank 
and file. So they quickly buried their differences 
in the common interests. The Empress had great 
confidence in M. Rouher, but this did not prevent 
her from taking the advice of other friends of the 
Empire. The Prince Imperial acted in the same 
catholic fashion, and here again mother and son 
were of quite one mind. He would study the whole 
situation thoroughly and then would arrive at a 
conclusion whose correctness often surprised those 
who remembered his youth at the time. So it be- 
came more and more evident that he was the “re- 
serve” of the conservative party of Prance, espe- 
cially since the Comte de Chambord had, the year 
before, put himself in a position where he could not 
hope modern Prance would foUow him. His return 
to France was possible, if the general situation took 
a favorable turn. Mother and son both felt this and 
both saw what a new and responsible position was 
theirs. This alone would have more than suflSced to 

139 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


cause union between them, if this union had not al- 
ready existed. 

In 1875, after a stay at Arenberg, where the 
Prince Imperial and the Empress welcomed a few 
friends from France, they decided to travel in Italy. 
There was no danger of any political meaning being 
attached to this journey, particularly as the Prince 
was to travel incognito under the name of Comte de 
Pierrefonds. At Bellagio they parted, the Empress 
going to Milan, while the Prince continued on to 
Verona. Unrecognized, he visited the battle-field 
of Solferino and took great interest in this instruc- 
tive excursion, so fitting for the heir of a military 
dynasty, and for himself, who was always much 
attracted by military matters. The Prince Imperial 
was devoted to such studies, not alone because he 
considered it a duty, but chiefly because it suited 
his tastes. 

After Solferino, he went to Magenta. But now 
his incognito no longer shielded him, and it became 
impossible to escape the sympathetic demonstra- 
tions whidi everywhere greeted the son of him who 
had been the Liberator of Italy. The Prince’s de- 
parture from Milan had leaked out, and when he 
reached Magenta, he found the Municipal Council 
awaiting him, while the road was lined by crowds 
of people who greeted him with loud and continuous 
cheers. 

In Milan, numberless marks of sympathy were 
shown the Empress, but she avoided as far as pos- 
sible all receptions, though some attentions could 
not be refused without showing greater indifference 
than she cared to assume. The population of Milan 
was thanked for its attentions, and at Florence, 

140 



THE PEINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIEE” 


where both wished to stop for some time, the mu- 
nicipal authorities desired to receive them officially 
at the station, where the neighboring streets were 
so crowded that it was almost impossible to leave. 
So dense was the crowd surrounding the entrance 
that several times the Empress cried out as the 
carriage passed: “Take care!” Both were deeply 
moved by these friendly acts. Italy and, above all, 
the Italian Government had seemed to forget so en- 
tirely all the services the Emperor had rendered 
to the country and to the cause of Italian unity that 
these manifestations might well occasion some sur- 
prise. 

During the six weeks spent in the Tuscan capital, 
there was a perpetual round of receptions, dinners, 
and even balls given in honor of the Prince. The 
Empress lived in retirement in a villa situated at 
the gates of Florence and did not take part in the 
social events. A few friends from France had 
joined the party, who generally accompanied the 
Prince, while others kept the Empress company. 
Among these were M. Eouher, chief of the Imperial 
party in Prance, Prince Joachim Murat, General 
Espinasse’s son, who had been a friend of the Prince 
Imperial since childhood. Though nothing was done 
to disturb the international relations of Prance and 
Italy, all quietly studied the situation in the former 
country and examined questions of the future. This 
was only natural. 

The Prince Imperial was not wholly occupied by 
his social duties, to which, however, he devoted no 
small part of his time, well understanding their im- 
portance to the successor to a throne. He continued 
his military studies, which were already far ad- 

141 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


vanced, participated in the artillery maneuvers and 
took lessons in military art from a very distin- 
guished officer of the Italian army, Major Manzi. 

On December 15th, accompanied by M. Rouher 
and Prince Joachim Murat, the Empress and the 
Prince left for Rome, where Pope Pius IX awaited 
the visit of his godson. They were welcomed at the 
Vatican with all due honors, and the Holy Father 
showed them marked affection. This visit created 
considerable comment both in Rome and in France, 
the extreme parties in both countries speaking out 
loudly on the subject. Some maintained that the 
Prince Imperial had requested the assistance of the 
Holy Father in political matters, while others did 
not hesitate to assert that Pius IX had been much an- 
noyed by a visit which he did not desire and could 
not refuse, and had been extremely cold in his man- 
ner towards the Empress and her son. There was 
no truth in either of these statements. The call on 
the Pope was quite natural. The Empress and the 
Prince were in Italy, there was no dominant politi- 
cal object in view, and it was simply an act of re- 
spect and deference on the part of a Christian and 
very deeply religious Prince towards the Chief of 
his Church, a mark of affection on the part of a god- 
son towards his godfather. At least, such was the 
light in which it was regarded by host and guests. 

After the visit to Rome, the Imperial party re- 
turned to Florence, where they remaiued through- 
out the winter of 1875-1876. Again, they took up 
the same style of living, half military, half social. 
The Prince was evidently appreciated in the Flor- 
entine society. Besides the Bonaparte Princesses 
and other connections of the family who paid visits 

142 



THE PRINCE’S “BAPTISM OF FIRE” 


to Tiim, many influential members of official and 
aristocratic circles came to pay their respects. But 
in May the Prince returned to England, while the 
Empress went to spend some weeks in Spain. 

The visit to Italy had more importance than would 
appear at first blush. It should be remembered that 
in 1875 an old soldier of the Second Empire, Mar- 
shal MacMahon, was President of France, and that 
in the National Assembly was a strong and com- 
pact body of deputies determined to bring back 
the Empire. New Bonapartist deputies were being 
continually elected, and the republican party at 
this moment was very nervous about this tendency 
of the electorate to choose Bonapartists. This trip 
to Italy indirectly aided in the political work at 
home by bringing the Prince Imperial before the 
public of France and Europe in general. 

At Chislehurst, the political visits which had been 
interrupted by the journey to Italy, now recom- 
menced. The Prince Imperial was again visited by 
his father ’s friends, and the friends of his childhood, 
who came to see him one at a time, whenever they 
were free, for many of them had entered the mili- 
tary schools. One by one also came the Deputies 
of the Bonapartist group in the Assembly, who had 
long conversations with the young Prince. At the 
same time the latter resumed his military studies, 
and took part in the sports which are considered 
necessary to a princely education. 

It was at this moment that the Prince Imperial, 
desirous of exercising the sole right which had been 
left to him as a citizen, by the decree which exiled 
him, asked Prince Murat to represent him on the 
occasion of the annual drawing of lots for oonsorip- 

143 



MEMOIES OE' THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

tion. He was now approaching twenty-one. The 
Prince’s name was not on the list, however, and in 
spite of repeated demands it was not inserted soon 
enough for him to try his chance in 1877. The fol- 
lowing year, however. Prince Murat, assisted by M. 
Eouher, was able to fulfil the mission intrusted to 
him. When the name of Bonaparte was called, the 
Prince advanced to the official who was stationed in 
the old Palace of Industry, where lots were drawn 
for the first ward of Paris,- and drew the number 
807. But the law of exile would permit the Prince 
Imperial to go no further. He could not enter the 
French army, and so a year later he joined the Brit- 
ish forces in South Africa with the tragic result 
known to the world. The Italian visit led up to this 
fatal step, for it was in Italy that he conceived the 
idea of going into active military life, an idea im- 
planted in his young brain by his daily association 
with some of the eager and ambitious young officers 
of the King’s fine army. 



CHAPTER VII 


THE DEATH OF THE PEIFTCE IMPEEIAL 

At 9 o’clock, on one morning in March, 1879, the 
Prince Imperial, accompanied by the Einpress and 
a fe-w others, started from Chislehurst on that fatal 
journey to South Africa. The day before, he wrote 
as follows to Father Goddard, of the Chislehurst 
church: “I trust you will not think that the haste 
of my departure and the many details I must see to 
are causing me to forget my duties as a Christian. 
To-morrow I shall go at half past seven to confess 
and receive holy communion for the last time in 
Chislehurst chapel, where I hope to he buried, if 
I die.” I copy from the original letter, w'hich I saw 
and which the Empress once possessed. Of course, 
the latter felt quite unnerved at his departure. But 
the Prince appeared calm and energetic. He said 
good-by to aU who had come to see him otf and many 
of whom were in tears. He tried to comfort them. 
I must confess that the Empress wept most of the 
way to Southampton and at the dinner, when the 
generals present drank her health and that of the 
Prince. When the ship sailed off, I well remember 
that she nearly fainted in the supporting arms of 
dear friends. The Prince was much moved, but kept 
a wonderful control over his feelings. 

I have felt that these memoirs would not be com- 
plete without some account of the death of the 

145 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Prince Imperial. For this reason I have inserted 
a chapter describing this terrible tragedy. 

My father was a General and Ambassador of the 
Second Empire. From boyhood I had been the play- 
mate of the Prince Imperial and was one of the 
watchers who kept guard over his coffin the night 
before the burial at Chislehurst, July 12, 1879. 

On May 31, 1879, the first division of the Newdi- 
gate column of the English army was camping on 
the banks of the Blood Eiver, in Cape Colony. The 
next day the rest of the column entered Zululand 
and the two divisions started towards Itelezi. The 
Prince Imperial and Lieutenant Carey started at 
half past eight, preceding the vanguard. M. Paul 
Deleage, of the Figaro, was with them at this mo- 
ment but hesitated to follow this reconnoitering 
party, though Carey told him they were going only 
a slight way ahead of the main body, “only seven 
or eight miles, when we shall decide where the camp 
shall be pitched.” At this moment the Prince came 
up and said to M. Deleage: “Our little excursion 
will not be very interesting to you, you who have 
already gone so far into Zululand.” The Prince 
then asked for some paper to write a letter to Eu- 
rope, saying: “I have just heard that Mr. Forbes, 
who, if I am not mistaken, is the correspondent of 
the London Daily News, is returning to Landman’s 
Drift this morning. I want to ask him to take a let- 
ter to the camp post office, as this will be our last 
chance to send news to Europe for some days to 
come.” The Prince then went into a tent to write 
his letter. It was not given to Mr. Forbes, how- 
ever, though it did get into the post and reach- 

146 



DEATH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAJ. 


ed its destination. It was the last letter the n' 
tunate Prince ever wrote, and it was address 
his mother. “I will not cross the frontier,” he 
to the Empress, “without giving you news of 
The letter bore the day of the month, whicl 
seldom the case in the correspondence of the P 
Imperial, and this date was June 1st. The un 
tunate young man seemed to feel that this was au 
important moment in his career, but probably saw 
in it only the act of crossing into the enemy’s coun- 
try. Or did he have a presentiment of his approach- 
ing death, as so often happens in war? The Em- 
press always felt so, though the basis of her opin- 
ion was the slim fact of her son’s having thus dated 
his last letter to her, and having said therein one 
or two somewhat mysterious things, which, if forced 
somewhat, might give color to this idea of premoni- 
tion. 

At the moment when Lord Chelmsford left the 
camp, following his army, he asked where his young 
staff officer, the Prince Imperial, was. An officer 
replied: “The Prince is a little in advance of the 
column, with Colonel Harrison.” This answer satis- 
fied Lord Chelmsford, who always felt the responsi- 
bility that lay upon him in connection with the pres- 
ence of the Pidnce Imperial with the British army. 
In fact, he had received special instructions from 
the British government concerning the care he was 
to have of the Prince. 

Colonel Harrison, as was the case that day, with 
all the staff officers of General Newdigate, was espe- 
cially charged with the supervision of the march of 
the troops and the progress of the wagon trains; 
so that he was not obliged to be far absent from 

147 



lEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

'^anguard, and could, consequently, keep an eye 
e Prince. “Nobody imagined that the Prince 
Lieutenant Carey would go further than 
i,” said to me one of those present, “which 
o be the camping place that day of the little 
How happened it then that orders were not 
yed and that the catastrophe occurred at a con- 
siderable distance in advance of the head of the 
column? Later, all the officers of the staff were 
questioned on this point, and the Empress, when she 
made her sad journey to Zululand, went over the 
whole route followed that day, but several points in 
that tragedy have never been sufficiently explained 
and probably never will be. M. Deleage wrote in 
the Figaro an account of all this, and the gist of it 
he has repeated to me on more than one occasion. 
On this point he said to me : 

“I was with Colonel Montgomery when he 
reached the Itelezi hill and looked round for the 
Prince. I saw Lord Chelmsford and Colonel Har- 
rison, but I did not see the Prince Imperial. I im- 
mediately concluded that the Prince and Lieutenant 
Carey were awaiting us on the spot chosen for the 
camp. A little further on I met Captain Stanley, 
correspondent of the London Standard, who said to 
me: 

“ ‘Don’t go any further; we are stopping here.’ 

“ ‘I don’t think that can be so,’ I answered, ‘for 
if this were the spot, as I got here first, I should 
have seen the Prince Imperial and Lieutenant 
Carey, who came forward to select the spot for the 
camp. ’ 

“ ‘Doesn’t the Prince wear yellow boots?’ asked 
the Captain. 


148 



DEATH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


“ ‘Yes,’ I answered. 

“ ‘Then he is with the Lancers, for I have just 
seen with them a yonng officer that corresponds to 
your description of the Prince Imperial.’ 

“From other inquiries which I made during the 
afternoon, I was satisfied that the Prince was with 
us, until towards evening, when I had just entered 
the tent of Lieutenant Trench, another English of- 
ficer hurried up and, to my astonishment, exclaimed : 

“ ‘The Prince Imperial has been killed!’ 

“ ‘Please repeat that in French,’ I said, seizing 
the officer by the arm. 

“He did so, whereupon I hastened to headquar- 
ters, where I found Lord Chelmsford standing in 
front of his tent, and, before I put him the question, 
I could see by the troubled expression of his face 
that the news was only too true. 

“ ‘I have just learned,’ said his Lordship, ‘that 
the Prince’s horse returned riderless, following 
those of the little band who had escaped from the 
Zulus. There is the tent where you will find Lieu- 
tenant Carey, who can give you fuller details.’ 

“I found Carey dining quietly with Colonel Har- 
rison and another officer. At first, he was unwilling 
to leave the table, but when I told him that it was 
not as a journalist that I presented myself, but as 
a Frenchman anxious to know the truth about a dis- 
aster which had befallen one of my countrymen, the 
lieutenant consented to speak;, and this is what he 
said: 

“ ‘After having fixed on the place for that night’s 
camp — ^the very spot where we now are — ^the Prince 
and myself, accompanied by six men and a Kaffir 
guide, pushed on eleven miles further. Toward two 

149 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


in the afternoon we stopped in a kraal to sketch the 
site of the second camp, while the men were engaged 
in making the coffee. Toward half past three, at 
the very moment when we were remounting, we 
were surprised by a band of Kaffirs, whom we had 
not discovered, owing to the high grass and maize 
in which they were hidden. "We all sprang to onr 
horses. After crossing a deep donga, I turned and 
looked back, when I saw coming out of another point 
of the donga the Prince’s horse without his rider. 
The Kaf&r and two of our men are also missing, 
about whom I know as Httle as about the Prince.’ 

“I was exasperated almost beyond control by the 
offhand manner and tone of Lieutenant Carey, and 
I held back with diflSeulty the cutting remarks which 
were on the tip of my tongue. 

“What was to be done so late in the day? Could 
search parties be sent out into an unknown region 
in the night? Or should they simply wait for the 
return of the Prince and the missing men, whom 
all still hoped to see come back alive? The ques- 
tion was carefully examined in all its aspects and 
the officers then reluctantly came to the conclusion 
that they must wait till daylight before acting. 

“ ‘But,’ objected M. Deleage, ‘let me point out 
that it is a beautiful moonlight night. A trail can 
be followed. Perhaps the Prince is only a mile or 
two away — ^he may be wounded and dying. We might 
yet save him from mutilation and birds of prey.’ ” 
The Figaro correspondent added, when he gave me 
the account: “Cold and matter-of-fact reasons 
were given why this could not be done, and seeing 
that it was useless to insist further, I impatiently 
waited for the morning to break.” 

150 



DEATH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 


It was then decided that all the cavalry, under 
the orders of General Marshall, should start out at 
five in the morning. Deleage was, of course, ready 
at the appointed hour, it having been consented to 
that he accompany the expedition. While he was 
taking a cup of tea, he learned that the hour for 
starting had been adjourned till nine. Amazed and 
angered, he sought out the correspondent of the 
Daily News and begged him to intervene in favor of 
the earlier hour. This was done, and the troops 
finally got under way at seven o’clock. M. Deleage ’s 
narration continues as follows ; 

“I marched with the scouts at the head of the col- 
umn. One of these was a native of Mauritius, who 
spoke French perfectly and who, the day before, 
had been one of the Prince’s escort. He told me 
he saw the Prince try to get on his horse in the 
donga and related many other sadly interesting in- 
cidents of the fatal day. As the horses descended 
the slope into this donga, they stopped suddenly in 
front of a naked corpse, which was hideously muti- 
lated. The body was very large and all saw at a 
glance that it was not that of the Prince. Sud- 
denly a trooper who was following the edge of the 
ravine cried out that he saw another body. We all 
pushed forward, and even from a distance, we recog- 
nized the slender form of the young Prince. He 
was lying on his back, with his arms, stiffened by 
death, slightly crossed over the chest, and his head 
bent a little to the right. The face bore no signs 
of pain. The mouth was partly open. The right 
eye had been carried away by a blow from an 
assagai, but the left eye was intact and looked forth 
with a gentle gaze. On his chest were seventeen or 

151 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


eighteen assagai wounds. The abdomen had been cnt 
open, as is the custom with these savages, but con- 
trary to habit, the bowels had not been removed. Dr. 
Scott and myself examined the body to see if there 
were any wounds in the back, our object being to 
learn whether he had been prevented from mount- 
ing his horse. The only wounds in the back were 
those of the assagai points which had gone clean 
through the chest. His death — and these are the 
words which I said to the Empress, when, later, I 
gave her a description of the whole terrible scene — 
had been that of a brave man, his face turned to- 
wards the enemy. As we raised the Prince’s head, 
our attention was drawn to the little gold chain 
which he always wore around his neck and to which 
were fastened several Catholic medals and the seal 
brought back from Egypt by General Bonaparte. 
Was it fear of these amulets which prevented the 
Zulus from carrying them off? Probably. Captain 
Molyneux picked them carefully up and sent them 
eventually to the Empress, who also received, later, 
the Prince’s sword, which Lord Chelmsford ob- 
tained, after negotiations with the Zulu chiefs. 

“In the meanwhile, nearly all the soldiers and of- 
ficers of the expedition had assembled in the donga 
and stood with uncovered heads around the body of 
the first victim of the war. The Prince’s eyelids 
were closed and his body was wrapped in a blanket 
taken from one of the horses. At a short distance, 
an ambulance wagon was waiting. The body was 
carefully fastened to an improvised stretcher 
formed of lances and home by officers to the wagon, 
perhaps a mile away. Three hours later, the sad 
procession had reached the camp, and the remains 

152 



DEATH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 

of the dead Prince were laid under a staff tent. At 
first, it was proposed to bury him at the camp and 
soldiers stood ready, spade in hand, to dig the grave. 
But, after further consultation, it was finally de- 
cided to send the body to Durban, where a man of 
war was ready to transfer it to England. A funeral 
took place at the camp. The ceremony was very 
simple but very impressive. The body, covered with 
a tricolor flag, was home away on a gun-carriage, 
saluted by the whole British army. This flag was 
later deposited at Chislehurst. ” 

In just what manner did the Prince Imperial meet 
his death? This question was asked then, has often 
been asked since and will probably be asked in the 
future. But an exact and categorical answer to it 
cannot be given and perhaps never will be given. 
Three classes of. evidence have been gathered on 
the subject. In the first place, there were the wit- 
nesses of the tragedy who were with the Prince and 
who spoke immediately thereafter. Then there is 
the report of the official Committee of Inquiry, and 
finally the information furnished to the Empress 
when she visited the Cape in 1880. I have sifted all 
this testimony and frequently spoken with the Em- 
press on the subject, and this is my conclusion. 

A few minutes before leaving Koppei-Allein, 
Lieutenant Carey and the Prince said they were 
not going further than Itelezi, which was to be oc- 
cupied during the day. The officers of the British 
army, who were especially concerned in the safety 
of the Prince, all supposed that he was not going so 
far as the Ityotyosi valley, where the fatality oc- 
curred. M, Deleage shared this belief. What hap- 
pened afterwards? Were the orders given them 

153 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


changed, or did they themselves, while on the way, 
decide to modify these orders? How happened it 
that the Prince was killed eleven miles from the spot 
where he was supposed to be and where he was 
sought for? The inquest gave no satisfactory reply 
to these questions. 

"When Lieutenant Carey reached England, he said 
that Colonel Harrison gave him these orders : ‘ ‘ To- 
morrow, the Prince will reconnoiter the road which 
you have chosen, so as to be sure of the way to the 
spot for the camp. You will remain at the camp 
and finish your map.” And he replied : “To-mor- 
row, as the column will be on the march, I shall not 
be able to do much on my map. Will you permit me 
to accompany the Prince, as I should like to go over 
the ground again in order to verify certain details 
about which I am not perfectly sure?” Colonel 
Harrison, after hesitating slightly, said: “Very 
well, you may go.” 

Why should there have been any hesitation about 
allowing Lieutenant Carey to accompany the Prince 
on an expedition which was, after aU, more particu- 
larly entrusted to the lieutenant himself? Why 
were such vag-ue expressions used in England by 
Lieutenant Carey to explain what the Prince’s pur- 
pose was in thus going in advance of the column? 
From what the lieutenant said to Colonel Harrison, 
it is plain, it seems to us, that this was to be a recon- 
noissance of a road which the lieutenant had gone 
over the day before. Carey continues, still in rather 
ambiguous terms: “The Prince was carrying out 
a special mission, entrusted to him alone, and I ac- 
companied him merely to get the benefit of his escort 
while I was performing a work which was quite per- 

154 



DEATH OF THE PBINOE IMPEEIAL 


soual to me.” Tlie fact is that the “special mis- 
sion” of the Prince was very simple, provided it 
were not modified, which was, it seems, mysteriously 
the case. He was to move at some distance ahead of 
the main body, designate the spot of the first camp- 
ing place, and stop there. It was not considered a 
dangerous mission, as no orders had been given for 
a special escort. It would look as though the plan 
were modified by Lieutenant Carey, for this is what 
he says: “On the previous day, I had been on 
horseback two miles beyond the kraal which we had 
in front of us, and when I told Lord Chelmsford of 
the road I had chosen, he remarked that there was 
a donga thirty feet wide and asked me how I was 
going to get the troops over it.” Lieutenant Carey 
wished to look into the matter again; but as it was 
hard to get staff officers to furnish an escort, he 
thought it would be easier to obtain what he wanted 
in the Prince’s name ; and he felt pretty certain that, 
once arrived at Itelezi, it would not be difficult to get 
the Prince to accompany him to Ityotyosi. By 
hurrying a little, they could get back to the camp 
before anybody would be aware of their absence. 
Such was Carey’s plan, as he himself states. 

The Empress collected all that was written on the 
subject of her son’s death and guarded as treasures 
aU the souvenirs of that terrible tragedy. I am 
using these materials in this chapter. Thus it is 
that I learn from a Daily News correspondent this 
description of the volunteers of this expedition. He 
says on this point : “These volunteers are a strange 
mixture of Dutchmen, Hermans, Frenchmen, Afri- 
can colonists, and English deserters, the flotsam and 
jetsam of aU countries who, after thousands of ad- 

155 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


ventures, have finally landed in Natal. The insub- 
ordinate spirit which prevails among most of those 
men renders them almost useless and their officers 
have no authority over them. Such were the men 
forming the Prince’s escort when he sot out on the 
fatal expedition. It is true that Shepstone, head 
volunteer, had been ordered to send along five Ba- 
sutos. But he did not obey orders ; he sent no one, 
and the Prince, after waiting some time, started 
with his six horsemen and Lieutenant Carey, who 
was taking a Zulu friend with him. It has well 
been asked how the Prince could command a recon- 
uoitering party, as he had no regular commission 
and especially as he had no experience in this sort 
of service. It is true that Lieutenant Carey, with 
his large knowledge of this kind of work, could be 
of aid to him, though he does not appear to have 
been so. It appears also that at the critical moment, 
none of their guns were charged, though the Mar- 
tini carbines are very rapidly loaded. General 
"Wood made an estimate and thought that the num- 
ber of Zulus who attacked the Prince’s party must 
have been about thirty. It has never been con- 
sidered that this was too large a number to have 
been held in check by a body of eight Europeans 
armed with carbines and revolvers and provided 
with horses.” 

So the Prince started with six men as escort and 
a guide in order to enable, it would appear, an ofiB- 
cer to rectify topographical notes which had been 
hastily jotted down the day before. Carey said 
afterwards that he was not in command of the little 
expedition, and, consequently, was not responsible 
for what happened afterwards. But it is plain that 

156 



DEATH OF THE PEINCE IMPEEIAL 

if the Prince consented to go beyond Itelezi, it was 
solely to please Carey. The Prince’s mission did 
not take him to Ityotyosi; the lieutenant alone was 
interested in going there. But, in reality, the Prince 
was commanding only by courtesy. The fact that an 
English officer of the same rank was present, really 
made this officer the commander of the mission. 
Carey even said the next day to Delcage, as they 
were going to seek the body, who afterwards re- 
peated it to me : “I am sure that if I had said that I 
was willing to wait for a larger escort, no one would 
have found fault. But the Prince was anxious to 
start and I did not wish to impose on him my author- 
ity. ’ ’ However that may be, the little mission stopped 
only about an hour at Itelezi, and then moved on. 
Who gave the order for them to start forward? Was 
it the Prince ? Or was it both acting in unison ? Carey 
says it was the Prince. Anyway, they soon reached 
the heights which look down into the valley where 
runs the river Ityotyosi, and there they stopped, 
while the Prince began to draw and the lieutenant 
noted on his map the different halting places. They 
even examined through their glasses the region 
round about and saw nothing to awaken suspicion. 
Then they slowly descended from the hills into the 
valley and decided to rest their horses on the river 
bank. Carey admits that no precautions were taken 
against an attack, for they, of course, never im- 
agined that any Zulus were in the neighborhood. 
The horses were even unsaddled and left in a kraal, 
by the order of the Prince, says Carey ! The Prince 
sat down on the ground to rest, Carey used his 
glasses and the men engaged in making coffee ; and 
aU this went on in the enemy’s country, with no- 

157 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


body on tbe outlook, -wHle round about tbem were 
higli grasses and hillocks! Later, after the catas- 
trophe, Carey tried to shift from his own shoulders 
the responsibility of this unmilitary conduct, and 
said to some newspaper correspondents in England : 
“I did not select the spot where we halted. I 
wanted to stop on a height. But the Prince ordered 
that we rest in a narrow valley. It was not for 
me to object, especially as he was very fond of com- 
manding and would not have liked it if I had made 
any contrary suggestions.” Two days later, he 
was worried over this statement and modified it 
somewhat in conversation with a correspondent of 
the London Daily News, to whom he said: “I wish 
it to be clearly understood that I do not in any way 
blame the unfortunate Prince for the choice of the 
spot where we unsaddled, for which, perhaps, we 
were all more or less responsible.” 

But carelessness is not the only charge that lies 
on Lieutenant Carey in this lamentable affair. He 
must also exonerate himself from a still heavier one, 
that of cowardice. The Zulus reached the kraal 
when the horses had been resaddled and the little 
troop was preparing to start. Their attack was 
very sudden. What happened to the Prince at that 
moment and how was he left behind? There are 
several versions and Carey’s official report. They 
do not aU agree. The lieutenant’s first version was 
that he had seen the Prince fall dead, wounded by 
a ball that had gone straight through his heart. He 
explained his own precipitate flight as being due to 
the fact that he had seen his fellow officer killed. 
But when he got back to the camp, he was less af- 
firmative on this point. He now said that he sup- 

158 



DEATH OF THE PEINOE IMPERIAL 

posed that the Prince had been killed in the kraal, 
hnt he could not tell exactly how. The following 
day, when the spot was examined, it became clear 
that little could have been known of what really 
happened there, because of the nature of the ground 
which hid every movement. Astounded by the sud- 
denness of the attack, it is evident that every man 
was looking out for himself, and the Prince, for 
the moment, was quite forgotten both by the officer 
and the men. At the instant of the flight, Carey was 
quite close to the Prince and dashed off at a gallop, 
closely followed by four of the men. When the 
Prince’s horse saw the other horses starting, he 
started, too, as is the habit with colonial horses, 
accustomed to moving in concert. But the Prince 
quickly overtook his horse and seizing one of the 
munition bags managed to hold on for a few sec- 
onds, and was in the act of jumping into the saddle 
when one of the leather thongs holding the bag to 
the saddle gave way and precipitated the rider to 
the ground. Left alone he turned and faced the 
enemy, determined to sell his life as dearly as pos- 
sible. Such is one of the versions. 

It was supposed by some that the Prince feU at 
the first attack, the position of the body and the 
expression of the face seeming to prove this. Drs. 
Scott and Robinson of the 17th Lancers thought 
that the assagai, which struck the right eye and cut 
into the brain, had been thrown from a distance and 
must have produced instantaneous death. Of course 
everybody hoped that this was so. But the narra- 
tion of the Zulu chiefs and what the Empress 
learned when she visited the spot do not seem, un- 
fortunately, to carry out this supposition. The re- 

159 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

port of Captain Molyneux, aide de camp of Lord 
Chelmsford, who had been charged to find the body 
of the Prince, also appears to support this version. 
His observations forced him to the conclusion that 
the fight had been a desperate one. The damp soil 
of the donga showed the marks of the Prince’s boots, 
with the soles stained with blood. There were blood- 
stains also on the stirrup straps, which were also 
besmeared with mud. To Captain Molyneux, this 
meant that the Prince had been seriously wounded 
before death came. He also noted, what has already 
been said, that the wounds were all received in front, 
and that the left arm, even after death, was in a 
warding-off position, the forearm being lacerated 
with numerous assagai thrusts. The right arm was 
striped with longitudinal cuts. These facts show 
that the unfortunate young man used his left arm 
as a shield, held his sword in the right, and fought 
with the energy of despair. Captain Molyneux ’s 
hypothesis seems to be based on solid fact. Later 
testimony carries it out. The report drawn up at 
Woolwich on July 12, 1879, by Drs. Larey and Cor- 
visart, reaches the same conclusion. 

I have spoken with some of the volunteers, and 
the following facts are gathered from what they 
told me. 

Sergeant Willis said to me : 

“We descended a hill to a kraal about a hundred 
yards from the Imbazani river. The kraal contained 
four or five huts. There was clear ground in front 
but high grass and standing crops all around the 
other sides. We were ordered by the Prince to off- 
saddle and, after knee haltering, turned our horses 
into the grass, while we lay down outside the huts 

160 



DEATH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 

and took some coffee. At four, we were ordered to 
saddle, as our Kaffir said lie had seen a Zulu across 
the river going up the hill opposite. Just as we 
mounted, a sudden volley was fired. I saw two men 
fall from their horses, but I cannot say who they 
•were, because I was galloping hard. About fifty 
yards in front was a deep donga where we caught up 
to Lieutenant Carey. The Zulus continued firing at 
us for two hundred yards and yelling all the time. 
From the shots, I should say we had some fifty of 
them after us.” 

Corporal Grubb said to me : 

“Wben we arrived at the kraal, we found dogs 
there and traces of recent habitation by the Zulus. 
At the first shot, I saw Rogers fall, and then Letoga 
rushed by me crying : ‘ The Prince has been 

wounded.’ I looked back and saw the Prince clutch- 
ing at his stirrup and caught beneath his horse, 
which was galloping off. A moment later, the 
Prince fell and the horse seemed to trample on him. 
I wanted to fire on the Zulus, but my horse stumbled 
in the ravine and my gun slipped from my hands. 
When I got over my first fright, I noticed the 
Prince’s horse at my side. Lieutenant Carey or- 
dered us to catch it.” 

Trooper Cookrane said to me: 

“As I was crossing the donga about fifty yards 
from the kraal, I saw the Prince on foot, the Zulus 
pressing near to him and his horse fleeing in an op- 
posite direction. I saw nothing more of the Prince 
after that. We made no effort to help him, because 
we were but three and all separated. We galloped 
about two miles without stopping.” 

Private Letoga said: 

161 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


“When we passed near the Prince, who was hold- 
ing on to the strap of his stirrup and trying to get 
into the saddle, I said to him: ‘Please make haste 
to mount, sir.’ He made no reply. He was not 
holding the bridle. I saw him fall. His horse tram- 
pled on him.” 

Such were the significant hits of conversation 
which I had with these men. What they said throws 
a sad light on this cruel tragedy. 

Lieutenant Carey’s reprehensible conduct in this 
sad affair has been explained in an odd fashion by 
some of his critics. They ask if he was not a traitor, 
drawing the Prince into an ambush and then clever- 
ly escaping himself. This hypothesis is supported, 
it is held, by a fragment of a letter from the Prince 
saying that the foreign contingent of the British 
army contained some very strange Frenchmen, 
while it is suggested that the Internationale — ^the 
revolutionary working-men’s organization — ^was re- 
sponsible for this fatal expedition, and that the 
Prince’s death had been decreed by its body of di- 
rectors. But this assertion cannot be taken seri- 
ously, though the fact remains that it has been re- 
peated over and over again. The legend has, how- 
ever, taken deep root in Prance, and many of those 
who have remained faithful to the Imperial family 
cannot free their minds entirely from it. 

When the news of the death of the Prince reached 
England, there was great commotion in official army 
circles. A discussion immediately began, which con- 
tinued for a long time, to decide where the responsi- 
bility for the disaster should be placed. The then 
British Minister of War, the late Lord Stanley of 
Preston, made a statement in Parliament on the sub- 

162 



DEATH OF THE PKINCE IMPEEIAL 


jeet, and on one occasion said mucli the same thing 
to the Empress in my presence. The following is 
my note of the conversation, made at the time : 

“Your Majesty will remember that the Prince 
started for Zululand without a commission or any 
definite military position, to follow Lord Chelms- 
ford’s staff. Chelmsford had received careful in- 
structions concerning him from the Duke of Cam- 
bridge, the commander of our army. Chelmsford 
was expected to have the Prince near him and to 
keep an eye on him; and so far as we know, that is 
just what he did do. But, of course, the post of 
staff officer, especially in such a country as South 
Africa, is not the safest. I have seen Chelmsford’s 
instructions to Colonel Harrison, and it results from 
them that Chelmsford, in transferring the Prince to 
a special staff, had not abandoned the idea of keep- 
ing him as his special charge. I know that he was 
constantly thinking of him. Your Majesty will re- 
member that on the morning of June 1st Chelmsford 
asked where the Prince was and was satisfied when 
he learned that Colonel Harrison had him in ad- 
vance of the main column. But he did not know 
that the Prince had been chosen to make a recon- 
noissance. I am told that Lord Chelmsford was 
charmed by the courage and pleasing personality of 
the Prince and gradually gave him more liberty than 
had been the ease at first. The Prince even took 
part in some of General Wood’s colxunn movements. 
Wood is an officer of great energy, though, perhaps, 
a little rash. On May 20th we had a telegram from 
Lord Chelmsford on the subject, in which he said 
that one of these reconnoissances, in which the 
Prince took part, nearly met with disaster, and then 

163 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


lie adds : ‘1 will try that such a thing doesn’t hap- 
pen again ; I do not want him to be exposed in such 
a manner.’ ” 

The Empress was much moved when she was 
shown this telegram. She well knew the character 
of her son, how he sought every occasion to distin- 
guish himself, and that nothing would hold him 
back from going where he thought duty called. On 
the occasion mentioned above, the Prince, indeed, es- 
caped only by a miracle, and it might have been 
hoped that after such an experience, Lord Chelms- 
ford would, in fact, have kept the young man by his 
side. Many Bonapartists who did not know the 
Prince’s impetuosity and desire to shine wondered 
that he remained attached to Wood’s column, and 
great displeasure would have been felt if they had 
been aware of the fact that Colonel Harrison had 
intrusted him with a reconnoitering mission in ad- 
vance of the column. But this was not made public 
until the telegram was received announcing his 
death. 

Sir Evelyn Wood always remained on the friend- 
liest terms with the Empress. He lived, after his 
retirement from the army, near Aldershot, and 
often came over to Farnborough on Sundays to see 
the Empress. On more than one occasion, the Prince 
Imperial was the subject of conversation, and I was 
careful, when I happened to be present, to make 
notes of what he said. One evening. General Wood 
said: “The Prince made a deep impression on me. 
His thoughts and habits were those of a true soldier. 
He was never weary in his efforts to acquii’e experi- 
ence and military knowledge; I remember that he 
accompanied General Redvers Buller on several pa- 

164 



DEATH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


trols during the Zulu war, and on his return from 
one of these expeditions, I made this remark to him 
during dinner: ‘Well, so you have not been struck by 
anassagai yet!’ ‘No,’ he replied; ‘but though I 
am in no hurry to be killed, I would prefer to fall 
under an assagai than from a bullet, for the first 
form of death would prove that I had met the enemy 
face to face.’ This conversation was a sad coinci- 
dence.” 

Colonel Villiers was designated by the late Queen 
Victoria to collect from the Zulu chiefs all the de- 
tails of the Prince Imperial’s death. Later, Colonel 
Villiers was the military attache at the British em- 
bassy at Paris, and on one occasion I heard him tell 
the story as he learned it from the lips of the sav- 
ages: 

“The Zulus, they told me,” the Colonel began, 
“first rushed after the two fieeing soldiers on the 
flank, and then three or four others, headed by La- 
banga, turned on the retreating Prince. They say 
his horse shied at the very moment when they saw 
he was going to mount, and that the baggage roll 
at the back of the saddle gave way as the Prince 
grasped it and the consequence was that he fell to 
the ground. At this moment, the Zulus declare, he 
was only about sixty-five yards from his comrades 
who were galloping away. Seven savages attacked 
the Prince. Langalebele says that when he first 
caught sight of Labanga, he was rushing on the 
Prince, who came forward boldly to meet him. 
Thereupon, Labanga crouched down in the high 
grass and threw an assagai at his foe, which struck 
the Prince in the thigh. But he pulled it from the 
wound and used the weapon to keep his enemies at 

165 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

bay, which ho succeeded in doing for several min- 
utes, I remember the exact words of one of the 
Zulus. He said: ‘He fought like a tiger. He fired 
his revolver twice but did not hit any of us. Though 
one of my assagais hit him, it was Labanga who had 
the right to say that he killed him, for his weapon 
struck the Prince on the left shoulder and gave him 
a mortal wound. Then we rushed on him. But up 
to that time he had defended himself so well that 
we kept at a distance. ’ Another of them said to me : 
‘If we had known that he was called Napoleon, we 
would have spared him.’ ” 

After making an official report on the subject. 
Colonel Villiers went in person and gave all the de- 
tails to the Empress, bringing with him the clothes 
of the Prince, which he had found in the possession 
of the Zulus. The garments were torn and pierced 
with assagai strokes. The Empress bore up well 
during this narration until Ulhnann, the Prince’s 
former valet, recognizing the garments which he had 
helped the Prince to put on on the morning of June 
1st, seized them and began kissing the holes made by 
the weapons. This touching act so affected the Em- 
press that she could control herself no longer and 
hastily left the room, bathed in tears. 

“When the council of war condemned Lieutenant 
Carey to death,” the Empress once wrote me, “I 
asked that he be pardoned. He was thus able to ob- 
tain the grade of captain and retire on a pension at 
the age limit. But I am told that he was always more 
or less shunned by the other officers, who ever held 
him to have shown cowardice on that fatal occasion. 
He died at an early age, I am told. ‘Was it on ac- 

166 



DEATH OF THE PKINCE I^rPERIAL 


count of remorse or disappointment?’ asked one of 
my friends at the time. ’ ’ 

When the death of the Prince Imperial was 
known, countless telegrams wei'e received at Cam- 
den Place from France and all parts of Europe. 
The sovereigns of Europe did not forget the Em- 
press in her sorrow. She saw no one and was to he 
called only when the coffin had been placed in the 
main hall. A body of leading Bonapartists, with 
Prince Murat at their head, met in the evening on 
board the Admiralty yacht Enchantress, to await the 
arrival of the Orontes, due at daybreak. At half 
past six the steamer was sighted and by eight o’clock 
the body was transferred to the Enchantress. Can- 
non boomed and everybody on both ships was weep- 
ing. It was an imposing and very sad spectacle. 
When the Enchantress reached Woolwich, sailors 
carried the body to the foot of the altar. The Prince 
of Wales and a number of distinguished Frenchmen 
were there. The body was identified by the Ameri- 
can dentist. Dr. Evans, who had filled certain of 
the Prince’s teeth, 

Chislehurst was plunged into the deepest grief. 
The large entrance-hall had been transformed into 
a mortuary chapel. The ceiling was covered with 
French flags. The body was watched through the 
night by the former officers of the household and the 
friends of the Prince, of whom, perhaps, I may bo 
permitted to say, I was one. I noticed that the 
Empress remained there in prayer the greater part 
of the night. At Saint Mary’s Church, Chislehurst, 
the dais was formed of the pall which had been used 
for Napoleon Ill’s funeral. On the south side of the 
choir, opposite the chapel where is the granite sarco- 

167 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

phagus given by Queen Victoria as the temporary 
tomb of the Emperor, a similar tomb had been ar- 
ranged for the body of the Prince. Among those at 
the ceremony were the Queen and several other 
members of the Eoyal family, and a large number of 
distinguished Bonapartists and members of the Bon- 
aparte family. The Woolwich cadets were drawn up 
in a hollow square in front of Camden House, and 
before the principal door stood a magnificently dec- 
orated gun-carriage on which was placed the coffin. 
The pall bearers were the English princes, the 
Prince of Sweden and some notabilities of the 
Second Empire. The spirit which prevailed in 
France at this time was shown by the act of Gen- 
erals Fleury, Castelnau and Pajol, who retired from 
the army sooner than was necessary in order to be 
free to attend the funeral. A conspicuous object in 
the procession was the Prince’s war-horse. Stag, led 
by Gamble, the Emperor’s old stableman. Ten thou- 
sand Frenchmen were present at Chislehurst that 
day and probably two hundred thousand English- 
men. The emotion was very deep and later, all the 
details were given to the prostrated Empress. Queen 
Victoria made a great exception to her general cus- 
tom and was present at the ceremony, after which 
she expressed the desire to be received by the Em- 
press. The request was granted. She found the 
weeping mother in a darkened room. The Empress 
tried to rise when the Queen entered, but was too 
weak to do so and fell back in her chair. Thereupon 
the Queen slowly advanced, folded her arms about 
the Empress, and both wept profusely. Neither 
spoke a word. Princess Mathilde was the only other 
person admitted to the Empress’s presence that 

168 



DEATH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 


day. The next morning there was a solemn service 
in the Chislehurst church, when Cardinal Manning 
pronounced in English a very fine funeral oration. 
But the coffins of father and son no longer rest 
there, for the Empress, later, had built at Parn- 
borough a chapel in whose crypt the bodies were 
finally placed. 

M. Franceschini Pietrl, who can speak with such 
authority on the subject which he treats below, con- 
tributes the following paragraphs to this chapter: 

“The Prince Imperial being dead, it is easy to 
understand that the Empress did not take much 
interest in the differences of opinion which im- 
mediately began to show themselves in the opposing 
Bonapartist camps. A clause in the Prince’s will 
read as follows: ‘So long as there are Bonapartes, 
the Imperial cause will have a representative. The 
duties which our family owes to the country will not 
end with my death. The task of continuing the work 
of Napoleon I and Napoleon III falls to the eldest 
son of Prince Napoleon, and I trust that my mother, 
aiding him with all her strength, will thus give to 
those of us who will not be on earth, a last and sub- 
lime proof of her affection. ’ This clause of the will 
was very embarrassing to the Empress. She did not 
wish to show a decided preference for either the son 
or the father. But meetings of the leading deputies 
of the Bonapartist party, in spite of differences of 
opinion, finally decided that Prince Napoleon should 
be regarded as their chief. The Empress rarely took 
the same view of public questions as did Prince 
Napoleon and she naturally feared that difficulties 
and embarrassments would arise from this new ar- 
rangement. It was soon seen that she was right, an- 

169 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


other exoelleiit example of the wonderful perspicac- 
ity of this remarkable woman. After his arrest in 
the beginning of 1883 for his public manifesto 
against the republic, the Empress drew nearer to the 
Prince, but finally separated from him and trans- 
ferred her preferences to Prince Victor, whom she 
aided in his exile by financial support. But her 
domestic sorrow more and more separated the Em- 
press from all participation in the political affairs 
of the Bonapartist party and as the years rolled on 
she took less and less interest in politics, though 
her keen intellect and penetrating mind enabled her 
to see more clearly into public matters than many 
of the politicians of the day. ’ ’ 

The Empress left Chislehurst on March 25, 1860, 
on her long journey to Zululand. Among those who 
accompanied her were Sir Evelyn Wood, aide-de- 
camp of the Queen, and Lady Wood, the Marquis of 
Bassano, Lieutenant Slade, one of her son’s com- 
panions at Woolwich, who acted a noble part at 
Ulundi, Dr. Scott, who was present when the body 
was recognised and embalmed, and Ulhnann, the 
Prince’s faithful valet. At the Waterloo station the 
Empress found General Clarke, who presented to 
her a magnificent bouquet of violets from the Prince 
of Wales, which delicate attention was so character- 
istic of this future King of England. There, too, 
was Prince Charles Bonaparte, just arrived from 
Eome, and who got into the railway carriage and ac- 
companied the Empress to Southampton. The same 
afternoon, she sailed in the excellent steamer, the 
German, where everything was arranged most com- 

170 



DEATH OF THE PEINCE IMPERIAL 

fortably, and where many kind attentions were paid. 
Throughout the voyage, the Empress sat at the cap- 
tain’s table, in the center of the neat dining-room 
where were some fifty other first-class passengers. 
The voyage was uneventful, and the quiet ocean and 
the still skies, especially at night, when Eugenie 
often walked the decks till late, had a calming effect 
on her, which prepared her for the painful 
experiences which were to come. 

On April 25th the steamer touched at Port Eliza- 
beth. After having been kindly received by Sir 
Bartle Frere and offered apartments at the Govern- 
ment House, Cape Town, the Empress pushed on to 
Pietermaritzburg, Natal, where she disembarked. 
Before arriving, Eugenie learned that the expe- 
dition which had been sent into Zululand to set up a 
cross on the spot where the Prince fell, had returned 
safe and sound to the coast. The Empress finally 
left the ship at Durban, where Sir Garnet Wolseley 
came to meet her. It was night and there was a splen- 
did moon, and various sad thoughts were awakened 
in her when she set foot on African soil for the first 
time, perhaps on the very spot where the Prince Im- 
perial had stepped but a few months before, full of 
young life and ambition. The Empress was the guest 
of Captain Baynton, who kept in a tent outside the 
gardens a visitors’ register, for she led a re- 
tired life and saw nobody. From Durban they went 
to Maritzburg, going as far as Botha Hill by the 
unfinished railway, using a carriage the rest of the 
way. Having entirely crossed the colony of Natal, 
in the middle of May, they reached Utrecht, the 
first town on the frontiers of the Transvaal and 
Zululand. In this little place, filled with former 

171 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

Dutch Boers, the English military staff, to which 
the Prince Imperial belonged, camped for two 
weeks, so that the Empress found here more than 
one little souvenir of him. An important ambu- 
lance station had been set up in the native laager, 
and from the men who were wounded in the first 
part of the campaign, she learned that the Prince 
had spent many hours in this temporary hospital 
visiting the sick and saying kind words to them. 
Eugenie remained several days in this spot where 
her unfortunate son displayed for the last time his 
customary tenderness for human suffering. The 
last drive ended at four in the afternoon on June 
1st, at the donga in whose immediate vicinity the 
son met his death, in the Ityotyosi valley. Sir 
Evelyn Wood here gave the Empress all the de- 
tailed information which he possessed about the 
dreadful tragedy. She found there the cross so 
kindly sent by order of the Queen and entrusted to 
the care of the Zulu chief whose men had killed 
the Prince. A solemn service was held on the very 
spot where he fell so bravely. All remained there 
till night-fall. Eugenie noticed that wreaths of im- 
mortelles had been laid at the base of the cross by 
the Queen and Prince of Wales. She herself placed 
others on the graves of the two soldiers who had 
fallen at the same time as the Prince. On my 
return to Durban, the Empress visited the Danube, 
which was in port, the ship on which the Prince 
had sailed from Southampton to Natal, and the 
good Captain Draper gave her many interesting 
details of that last voyage of her son. Nothing 
eventful occurred during the return voyage to Eng- 

172 



DEATH OF THE PRINCE IMPERIAL 

land, whicli ended this extremely sad but, at the 
same time, comforting journey. 

Shortly after the return from Zululand, the Em- 
press went one day to Netley hospital, near 
Southampton, where were several patients who had 
seen her poor son during that fatal campaign. They 
spoke at much length, and from them she learned 
many little details and impressions, which have 
been utilized in trying to give some account of this 
unhappy chapter in her life. Many words in praise 
of the Prince fell in simple language from these 
plain men. What they said was all the more true on 
this account, and was very dear to the Empress. 



CHAPTER VIII 


IMPEEIAIi AND BOTAL VISITS 

Aiii monarclis make public journeys tbrougb 
their dominions, generally for political reasons of 
some kind. This was particularly the case during 
the Second Empire. There was a magic in the 
name of Napoleon, especially among the French 
peasantry, which the Emperor was not slow to use 
in his efforts to consolidate the new government. 
He also found a real pleasure in close association 
with the common people, whose condition he was 
always eager to ameliorate. It may he interesting, 
therefore, to enter with some detail into the way in 
which these grand official journeys were organized. 
These details are here given in connection with a 
visit which was paid in 1860 to the recently annexed 
departments of Savoy and Nice, when the Em- 
peror also crossed over to Corsica and even pushed 
rapidly through Algeria. The whole journey occu- 
pied five weeks. It was executed with great pomp 
under somewhat complicated conditions, and was 
one of the longest undertaken during the Second 
Empire. 

One of the most important things in connec- 
tion with these trips was having the court carriages, 
or others equally fine, ready at every point where 
a stop was made for any official visits. There were 
gala coaches and landaus, Imperial post-chaises, 

174 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 

and riding horses for reviews, all of which had to 
be centered in Algeria in such a way as to be dis- 
tributed properly through the country so as to be 
ready for the carrying out of every item of the long 
and complicated program. This particular jour- 
ney went off admirably in every respect, especially 
as regards the means of locomotion. General 
Fleury, the future grand equerry, managed every 
detail of the expedition and did it in a way that won 
the admiration and thanks of all. I should add 
that the general outlines were the work of the Em- 
peror himself, who entered into these great “oflBcial 
expeditions,” as he called them, with a zest that 
was peculiarly his own. The Emperor always had 
a great liking for geography, conning maps de- 
lighted him more than reading the most fascinating 
novels. Armed with a large sheet of paper, a lead 
pencil and a magnifying glass, he would spend 
hours at a time over big atlases, examining rivers 
and roads, making little diagrams, noting distances 
and hours and going into the smallest details with 
General Fleury, who would join him in the midst of 
his “time-table labors” as he used to say, laughing- 
ly, The General had also his own notes and itinera- 
ries all ready. Then the two series were molded 
into one, on which both worked later to render it as 
perfect as possible. 

But these more purely geographical matters were 
not the only elements of one of the journeys. Each 
member of the cabinet sent in a list of suggestions 
and a series of notes on the requests made in the 
different departments through which the Emperor 
was to pass. He was informed of the work for the 
State going on in this or that place, of the public 

175 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

improvements desired and of any other fact that 
could he of interest to him. With all this in hand, 
General Pleury would then draw up a complete plan 
of the expedition. When this was finally approved 
in all its details by the Emperor, General Pleury 
would communicate with the prefects, arranging 
with them the length of the sojourns in the different 
towns, the official visits to he made, the banquets to 
be attended, the guests to be invited to these ban- 
quets, and so on. 

During these journeys. General Pleury was 
charged with the supervision of the receptions of 
the authorities, official presentations, and the mat- 
ter of subsistence, which three divisions of the 
work were, generally, the care of three separate 
court functionaries. But the concentration of these 
three under one head gave the unity and perfection 
of detail which was always so much admired on 
the occasion of the various journeys and voyages. 
Furthermore, the General drew up a brief account 
of everything of historical, economical or industrial 
Interest in each region or place visited. 

All this information of every sort was printed 
and distributed among the persons composing the 
service of honor, so that every one was acquainted 
with the smallest details of the journey. Besides 
these “booklet-program,” which have now be- 
come very scarce, the General prepared a private 
note-book for the Emperor and the Empress, which 
contained confidential notes concerning the military 
and civil authorities of the places visited, and sim- 
ilar notes concerning the well-known private per- 
sons likely to he presented at different points dur- 
ing the tour. These note-hooks were in manuscript 

176 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 

and were the work of Captain de Verdiere, the Gen- 
eral’s devoted aide de camp, who was an invaluable 
helper in everything pertaining to these official 
tours. It is now very difficult to find any of these 
note-books, which were drawn up with the greatest 
care and neatness. I have one before me as I write 
these lines, and I can only admire once more the 
evidences of remarkable tact and assiduity in their 
preparation. Some of the suggestions and some of 
the statements might provoke a smile if seen by 
others than those for whom they were intended, and 
if read now at such a long distance from the 
moment that called them forth. But it should be 
remembered that they were meant to be a sort of 
vade meciim, thanks to whose valuable little hints 
and bits of information the Emperor and Empress 
were able to say the right word in the right place 
and to the right person. In some instances, the 
exact sentence which should be used was given. 
They were told the maiden name of the wife of this 
or that functionary. They were informed as to the 
number of children in a family. There was a hint 
concerning the political ambition of this one and 
of the political tendencies of that one. This one 
wished to come over to the Emperor without offend- 
ing his friends. This other one was desirous of be- 
coming a member of the Legion of Honor, without 
having to appear to desire it. Another person 
hoped for some reward because of his devotion to 
the agricultural interests of the region through 
which they were passing, while still another trusted 
he was to receive governmental support at some 
approaching election. By the aid of these notes, 

177 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


how many kindly and appropriate remarks were 
made! 

In many other ways, General Pleury displayed 
his remarkable efficiency in regulating and carrying 
out these superb official tours of the Second Empire. 
Let me give one instance of this of quite another 
kind from those just spoken of. It happened during 
a visit to Saint Malo in 1858. A wooden building 
had been thrown up for the ball offered by the 
municipality in our honor. During the dandng, 
the General heard a crack or two in the frail struc- 
ture and soon saw that its strength was over-taxed. 
But no sudden alarm was to be given or a panic 
might ensue. So, coming to the Empress, he said 
very quietly in her ear: “Madame, the ball-room 
floor is threatening to give way. I beg Your 
Majesty to withdraw slowly and I will empty the 
room.” So taking the Emperor by the arm, they 
walked quietly towards the door, bowing to the 
right and left as they advanced. Eugenie, of course, 
felt not a little nervous, but the General said after- 
wards that she did not show it. The Emperor did 
not know exactly why his consort was leading bim 
away, and the rest of the party expressed openly 
their regret at this early departure. Most of the 
company foUowed to the exit, and when they wished 
to return to the dancing they found the doors 
closed, and then learned the grave danger which 
they had escaped. 

We have pleasanter recollections of the Empress’ 
visit to Queen Isabella, who was holding her court 
at Saint Sebastian in the summer of 1857. Eugenie 
was at Biarritz. She embarked with her sister, the 
Duchesse d’Albe, on the steam-boat Coligny. They 

178 



IMPERIAL AND ROYAL VISITS 


reached the picturesque old Spanish town just as 
the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sight. Queen 
Isabella was in her best mood. She always took a 
special interest in the Empress on account of her 
Spanish origin, and they talked long and pleasantly 
of common friends of Madrid. In the evening the 
town was illuminated. There were processions and 
dancing and various popular entertainments. The 
day closed with a banquet and dancing on the deck 
of the Coligny as they sailed across the calm sea 
from Saint Sebastian to Biarritz. 

On some of these official tours rather amusing 
incidents occurred. I was told one that happened, I 
cannot now recollect just where. The Emperor had 
consented that the train should stop at some little 
station, which stop was not down on the pro- 
gram. The Empress was not informed of this 
change in the plan and so was not properly attired 
to present herself to the shouting crowd. In the 
meanwhile, the Emperor was doing his best to sat- 
isfy their curiosity, shaking hands with the nearest 
through the car window, and wondering why she 
did not appear, especially as she was being called 
for with many a “Long live the Empress!” which 
shout reached her in her car, where she was sitting 
quietly hidden behind the curtain. Finally, one of 
the young girls, all dressed in white, who had come 
down to the station especially to salute the Em- 
press, was lifted by her mother up into my oar, 
and bravely coming towards her was led up to her by 
General Fleury. Then, in a timid but clear voice, 
she exclaimed: “Excuse me, Madame, my name is 
Eliaoin!” Eugenie could not help laughing at the 
whole amusing scene, kissed the child, accepted the 

179 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


bouquet -whicb she offered, took off her traveling 
cloak and joined the Emperor at the window, much 
to the delight of the cheering people. The Empress 
long remembered this incident, and on similar jour- 
neys, when engaged in bowing to firemen and kiss- 
ing girls in white, she used sometimes to turn to her 
faithful friend Fleury and say to him in an under- 
tone: “My name is Eliacin.” 

But there was a class of these tours which was 
of a sad character. I refer to those made at a 
moment of some public calamity. Let me give an 
example of a tour of this sort. In the spring of 
1856, there occurred a most distressing flood in the 
valley of the Ehone. The poor working-men’s 
houses in the suburbs of Lyons were swamped. The 
same thing was true at Aix. The Gresivaudan and 
the whole Camargue country were submerged. 
Hundreds of houses, undermined by the waters, fell 
in. Euin was everywhere and many thousands of 
lives were in danger. The wild cry of despair 
reached Saint Cloud and touched the good Emper- 
or’s tender heart, tender especially to all the suf- 
ferings of the lowly. He immediately decided to 
hasten to the scene of aE this distress ; so, accom- 
panied only by his aide-de-camp. General Niel, he 
visited the flooded parts of Lyons, either on horse- 
back or in boat, and gave out handfuls of gold. If 
I am not mistaken, he distributed in this way half a 
million of francs. Leaving Lyons with tears in his 
eyes, those present told me, the Emperor hurried 
through the whole valley carrying cheer and aid 
everywhere. At Valence, the Emperor reached the 
mayor’s house on a porter’s hack. At Tarascon and 
Arles, and aU along the river’s course at Orange 

180 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 

and Avignon, where the raging waters often 
reached the roofs of farm and dwelling houses, and 
where buildings were constantly falling and spread- 
ing ruin and death on every side, on several oc- 
casions the Emperor risked his life “in this land 
campaign against Neptune,” as he said on his re- 
turn to Saint Cloud, all worn out and looking as 
though he had gone through a month’s sickness. He 
got back on June 4th, to learn that a similar catas- 
trophe had happened in the west, where the Loire 
was rising rapidly and threatening Anaboise, while 
owing to the overflowing of the banks of the Cher, 
Tours, Blois and Orleans were also in danger of 
being inundated. Scarcely waiting to take breath, 
the Emperor started out again on another journey 
of mercy, and carried cheer and relief to the tried 
populations who cheered him on every side. How he 
stood these trials, physicially, was always a mys- 
tery. 

The Emperor’s policy to be on good terms with 
England was brought out strongly in the visit which 
was paid to London in April, 1855, and especially in 
the return visit of Queen Victoria and the Prince 
Consort, four months later to Paris. A somewhat 
detailed account of this last visit is given below as 
it was planned in many particulars by the Emperor 
and the Empress and did much to lead later to im- 
portant political moves on the European checker- 
board. 

In spite of the Crimean war, the preparations for 
the International Exhibition of 1855 had gone on 
steadily and in due time it was opened with much 
pomp and ceremony. People rushed from all parts 

181 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


of Europe to the new Palace of Industry which had 
been erected in the center of the Champs Elysees, 
and which was for many the chief attraction in that 
part of the city. This famous building, which was 
intimately associated with so many grand inter- 
national events, became rather shabby towards the 
end, but disappeared only a few years ago, after 
also sheltering for nearly half a century home exhi- 
bitions of all kinds, painting and sculpture salons, 
horse-shows, and so on. Little did those who wan- 
dered round the vast edifice on such festive oc- 
casions dream that its last use was to be as a 
momentary sanctuary for the charred and dis- 
figured remains of the victims of the terrible fire 
of the Bazaar of Charity on May 4, 1897, in which 
disaster perished some friends very dear to the sur- 
vivors of the Second Empire. 

The Emperor had received from Queen Victoria 
the promise that she would pay him a visit during 
the exhibition. Nothing having occurred to prevent 
it. Her Majesty announced her arrival at Boulogne 
for August, 1855. Napoleon III went down to Bou- 
logne to meet his royal guest, determined, as usual, 
to do aU in his power to make her sojourn on 
French soil as memorable an occasion as possible. 
As soon as the yacht, Victoria and Albert, reached 
the harbour, the impatient Emperor boarded the 
vessel. As at Windsor, the Queen saluted her 
“good brother” on both cheeks, and while the cus- 
tomary good wishes and greetings were being ex- 
changed, the yacht reached the profusely decorated 
quay. The Queen landed, leaning on the arm of her 
imperial host, who escorted her to the carriage, ac- 
companied by Prince Albert and her two children, 

182 



IMPERIAL AND ROYAL VISITS 


the Prince of Wales and Princess Victoria. The 
Emperor himself acted as equerry, riding on the 
right of the carriage, while on the left galloped 
Marshal Paraguay d’Hilliers. A numerous and 
brilliant staff of officers followed, and the carriages 
of the suite, surrounded by a sparkling escort of 
the Cent Gardes, were particularly showy. The 
whole procession was a very striking one, and a 
certain one of the survivors of the Grand Army, see- 
ing the grand-daughter of George III pass so tri- 
umphantly through the town, could not resist the 
remark: ^‘Strange it is that we should have fought 
like dogs to come at last to this! If the old one 
came back what a rage he would be in to see it.” 
This rather ill-timed comment attracted no atten- 
tion, however, for the visit of the Queen of Eng- 
land, whose armies in the Crimea were allied to 
those of France, was a cause of rejoicing to all — 
to the people in the streets as well as to court 
circles. 

It was said at the time that more than two hun- 
dred thousand people were massed along the boule- 
vards and Champs Elysees at two o’clock of the 
afternoon of August 18th, to witness the triumphal 
entrance into Paris of the British sovereign, ac- 
companied by aU the most notable persons of 
the Second Empire. The windows were filled with 
clusters of heads, stands had been erected on every 
available spot, groups of workmen, market women 
in their best attire, vendors of coco, hawkers 
screaming and gesticulating, the inhabitants of 
various villages led by their mayors, their curates 
and their firemen, strangers from aU parts of the 
world, formed a restless and impatient crowd, 

183 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


swaying "beneath, trinnaphal arches, Venetian masts, 
flags and banners, hangings and transparent 
scrolls, all bearing words of welcome. Those who 
saw that sight can never forgot it, and were proud 
of the great city and happy at the grand reception 
which I am sure awaited Victoria and the Em- 
peror, who would be so delighted at the assured 
popular as well as official success. 

But it was almost dark when the cannon at last 
announced the arrival of the Queen at the Stras- 
bourg station. The people were much disappointed 
by the delay. When the imperial train stopped, 
General de Loewenstein stepped forward and 
offered a bouquet to the Queen in the name of the 
battalion of the National Guard, then on duty at the 
station. The military band played “God Save the 
Queen” as Victoria mounted into the open car- 
riage drawn by four horses with postilions. The 
Emperor put the young Princess by her mother, 
while he himself took the opposite seat alongside of 
Prince Albert. The Prince of Wales was in the 
second carriage with Prince Napoleon, cousin of the 
Emperor. Marshal Magnan, Military Governor of 
Paris, rode on the right of the royal carriage, while 
on the left was General de Loewenstein, command- 
ing the National Guard. Long afterwards, when 
King of England, Edward one day remarked that 
this visit had more to do than anything else in 
warmly attaching him to Prance and especially to 
the French capital, which he always loved so dearly. 
At this time, the future king was a winning boy of 
fourteen. 

Troops bordered the streets and road all the way 
from the Paris station to Saint Cloud. The route 

184 



IMPEEIAL AND EOTAL VISITS 

lay along the Boulevard de Strasbourg, the Grands 
Boulevards, the Champs Elysees, the Bois de Bou- 
logne, the village of Boulogne, and then over the 
Seine bridge to the castle. Brilliant illuminations 
had been prepared and the procession passed 
through streets ablaze with thousands of lights, 
while the Bois “sparkled,” as the Emperor said, 
“like the Gardens of Armida,” and was really 
fairylike in its unwonted splendor. At length, 
through the shining night appeared the silhouette 
of Saint Cloud. The effect of this drive was marked 
on the whole royal and imperial party. The Queen 
and Prince Consort several times turned to the 
Emperor to praise the beauty on every side and to 
express their genuine emotions. 

The Imperial Guard were massed in the avenues, 
the courts and terraces of Saint Cloud. Near the 
large gateway, in the midst of the soldiers, the 
children of the schools and orphanages were sta- 
tioned, the little boys on one side, the little girls, 
under the eyes of the Sisters of Charity, on the 
other. This gathering especially delighted the 
Queen, who much enjoyed the hearty cheers of the 
children and plainly manifested her satisfaction. 
Leaning over to the Prince Consort, she said: 
“Where but in artistic France would one have 
thought of thus uniting in the same assemblage the 
sturdy soldier and the gentle child? I am sure this 
idea emanated from the Empress.” And the Em- 
peror, much pleased, nodded his confirmation. 

Accompanied by Princess Mathilde and all the 
ladies of the household, the Empress was awaiting 
the Queen at the foot of the grand staircase; and 
after the first greetings had been exchanged, the 

185 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

Queen, accompanied by the Emperor, Empress, 
Prince Albert, the young Prince and Princess, 
mounted the staircase between two motionless rows 
of the Cent Gardes. “They remmd me of my Life 
Guards,” said the Queen, turning to the Emperor. 
All saw that the royal English children could not 
take their eyes from, the tall, beautifully uniformed 
soldiers. 

The Empress then conducted the Queen to the 
apartments which had been prepared for her. But 
the royal guest had not a moment to rest from the 
fatigues of her journey. She had barely time to 
dress for the grand dinner which awaited her, and 
for which the guests and hosts alike had a good 
appetite, which had been keenly whetted by the long 
drive. 

The apartment occupied by the Queen during her 
visit to Saint Cloud had been specially decorated 
for the occasion. The two distinguished French 
painters, Louis Boulanger and Faustin Besson, had 
just completed paintings over the doors and win- 
dows ; during the past month the Emperor himself 
had superintended the furnishing of the rooms, 
being desirous that the apartment should remind 
the Queen, as closely as possible, of her Windsor 
residence. .These rooms, on the first floor of the 
castle, were, moreover, most delightfully situated; 
several windows opened on to a balcony, and the 
eye wandered over the terraces and grassy slopes of 
the village of Saint Cloud, and beyond, to the green 
wavy masses of the Bois de Boulogne, and still fur- 
ther on, to Paris, shining white and fairylike in the 
far distance ; while from the other side of the apart- 
ment the gaze rested on the lovely gardens bright 

186 



IMPERIAL AND ROYAL VISITS 

with summer flowers, the sparkling fountains and 
cascades, stately alleys and shady avenues reaching 
out to the park of Saint Cloud. 

The walls of the apartment were hung with most 
beautiful tapestries and with Lyons silk. Handsome 
furniture had been chosen ; among other things, the 
Louis XV bureau by Riesener, the celebrated cab- 
inet-maker, which is now at the Louvre, and several 
pieces which had belonged to Marie Antoinette and 
which the Empress had brought together for the bou- 
doir which Louis XVI had prepared for his wife 
when he purchased the castle from the Due d ’Or- 
leans. Pictures from the Louvre-Mjhiefly of the 
Flemish and Venetian schools — ^were hung on the 
walls. Among other pictures was the Holy Family 
by Murillo, then recently purchased at the Marshal 
Soult sale. 

It was about nine o’clock when the Court gath- 
ered in the grand apartments of the castle. After 
the presentations, the Emperor and Empress 
passed with their guests into the Salon de Diane 
where dinner was to be served. The Queen called 
the attention of the Prince Consort to the beautiful 
ceiling where Mignard, the talented painter of the 
seventeenth century, had devoted a half dozen 
panels to the goddess who had given her name to 
this splendid dining-hall. 

The Queen wore a white, low-necked dress with 
geranium blossoms pinned here and there all over 
it and had rings on aU her fingers, the most con- 
spicuous among these being a blood-red ruby of 
enormous size. On her head, placed very far back, 
was a diamond aigrette j her hair, parted in the 
middle, was brought down over the ears ; her large, 

187 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

gentle eyes vere fine and\ candid; her complexion 
good; and her mouth irreghlar. Her Majesty "was 
small of stature, but -well shaped, and looked “every 
inch a queen.” She smiled pleasantly to all present 
and repeatedly told the Emperor and Empress how 
charmed she was with the hearty welcome she had 
received everywhere and all the attentions shown 
her since her arrival on French soil. 

The next day the Queen was so fascinated by the 
view of the park that she went out at an early hour, 
when the Emperor joined her, and together they 
had a long walk under the venerable trees of Saint 
Cloud. The Emperor was struck, not only by the 
proverbial affability of Her Majesty, but by her 
wide knowledge of all the political affairs of 
Europe, and of the evidently active part which she 
took in the foreign relations of the English govern- 
ment. When the Emperor joined Eugenie after this 
tete-drtete with Victoria, he said: “The Queen is a 
charming woman and an astute statesman, and both 
to an extreme degree.” 

It was Sunday. But care had been taken that one 
of the salons of the palace should be prepared for 
the celebration of a Church of England service. 
This attention was fully appreciated by the Queen. 
“The Empress and the Emperor seem to divine my 
wish,” she remarked. 

The Queen having expressed the desire to see 
what remained of the Castle of Neuilly, where she 
had been so warmly welcomed by the Orleans fam- 
ily in 1843, was accordingly driven to the spot dur- 
ing the afternoon. It will be remembered that the 
mansion was pillaged and burnt to the ground by 
the mob in 1848. The Queen looked for a long time, 

188 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 


with melancholy gaze, and in silence on the once- 
loved residence of Louis Philippe. 

Who could have then predicted that, in a few 
short years, the palace of Saint Cloud, where she 
was then an honored guest, would be reduced to 
a similar condition? No sad forebodings came, to 
darken the horizon on that radiant August day. 
Queen, Emperor and Court were all in a sunny 
mood like the weather itself. In fact, never did Vic- 
toria seem so happy, talkative and even witty as 
during this ten days’ sojourn in France. Though 
the Crimean war was then in full progress. Her 
Majesty was most optimistic as to the final outcome 
of the conflict; and this mood was quite justified, 
for Sebastopol fell a week later. “Victoria was 
right,” said the Emperor, when the good news 
reached Paris, “but we didn’t treat her as a Cas- 
sandra.” The Empress gives this account; 

I recall very vividly every incident of that visit 
to Neuilly. The Imperial and royal carriage 
stopped in front of the main entrance of the castle 
and the Queen stepped down, wearing a large white 
silk hat with streamers floating behind, and mar- 
abou feathers on the top. Her flounced dress was 
entirely white, and a bright green sunshade and 
mantle completed her costume. She wore small 
slippers tied with black ribands crossed over the in- 
step and ankle. A large bag or reticule, made of 
white material and embroidered with a large gilt 
poodle, hung from her arm. This was aU so dif- 
ferent from our Paris fashions of the day that I 
observed curiously every detail and I see now the 
complete picture as I write.” 

It is often said that a sovereign’s memory is very 

189 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


short, but such was not the case with Queen Victoria 
regarding the Orleans Princes. She did not try to 
hide from us her feelings of friendship for the 
fallen family. She not only asked to visit the ruins 
of NeuiUy; but at the Trianon, she especially 
desired to see the little chapel built in 1838 by Louis 
Philippe, on the occasion of the marriage of his 
daughter Marie to the Prince of "Wurtemberg. The 
Queen spoke tenderly of “poor Marie” and took 
pains to explain her feelings to the Emperor, who 
expressed his entire approval of her kind senti- 
ments and requested her to beg Queen Marie Amelie 
to pass through France when she went to Spain. 

“I feel no animosity towards the Princes of Or- 
leans,” remarked the Emperor; and when Queen 
Victoria praised the correctness of their attitude 
toward France, he merely answered: “It is to be 
regretted, however, that their representatives here 
are in constant communication with my worst 
enemies.” 

“But what else can you expect?” replied the 
Queen. “Is it not natural that those who have been 
exiled should be constantly tempted to conspire 
against those who have exiled them? Did you not 
plot against their government, yourself, when you 
were in similar circumstances?” she asked in a most 
gentle tone, that disarmed any resentment, if any 
had been felt. 

The Emperor’s only reply was to propose that 
the Queen should visit the chapel erected on the 
Route de la R^volte, just outside the walls of Paris, 
in memory of the Due d ’Orleans, Louis Philippe’s 
promising son, who died on this spot in 1842, from 
a carriage accident. 


190 



IMPEEIAL AND ROYAL VISITS 

By the Queen’s desire, General Canrobert, 
recently returned from the Crimea, was seated next 
to her at dinner on the second day of her visit. She 
spoke a long time with the brave soldier who gen- 
erously put aside his own claims to be commander- 
in-chief in order that the post might be given to 
General Pelissier. She questioned him minutely 
concerning the war, the death of Lord Raglan, the 
sufferings of the army, and all the details of its 
organization and movements. General Canrobert 
was much astonished at her knowledge of all these 
things, and the conversation, begun at dinner, was 
continued afterwards, and was only terminated by 
the opening of the concert given by the prize pupils 
of the Conservatory. The English sovereigns, 
especially Prince Albert, were very fond of music 
and they appeared to take great pleasure in the 
program that evening. Though the conversation 
between the different numbers turned chiefly on 
music and art, international politics wore oc- 
casionally touched upon, and from that moment the 
Empress shared the opinion of the Emperor that 
Queen Victoria was not a cipher in State affairs. 

Of course, all went to the International Exhibi- 
tion. But so dense was the crowd assembled to wit- 
ness their arrival that for a moment it was feared 
they might be crushed. The officers on guard had 
the greatest trouble to part the people so that the 
Emperor and Prince Albert might pass with the 
Queen and the Empress on their arms ; and finally, 
they were forced to enter by a side door to avoid 
the importunate curiosity of a too sympathetic 
throng. “Popularity has its disadvantages,” re- 
marked the Emperor, with a smile. “Yes, but we 

191 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

sovereigns prefer even excessive attentions to cir- 
cumspect neglect,” answered the Queen quietly. 
And the Prince Consort added: “If I were a king, 
I should prefer to he killed by a crowd than by a 
bullet.” The Empress closed the dialogue with: 
“But I would like to escape both.” And an agree- 
able examination of some of the more notable ex- 
hibits followed this rather unpleasant tumult at the 
gates. 

That evening, the actors of the Comedie Fran- 
§aise played before the sovereigns in the Ettle 
theater of Saint Cloud. The piece given was Alex- 
andre Dumas’s Demoiselles de St. Cyr, which the 
Queen had seen several times in English in London, 
and which she desired to see in French in Paris, 
and given by the talented troupe of the famous 
State theater. “Nothing can surpass their art, un- 
less it be that of Dumas’s,” she remarked at the 
close. 

On the following day, the Queen visited Versailles 
and the Trianon, and in the evening was present at 
the special gala performance at the Opera, then sit- 
uated in the Eue le Peletier, where it was burnt in 
1873. Mme. Alboni and Mme. CruveUi sang with 
great success selections from various pieces, and 
the evening closed with the ballet de la Fonti. 

The aspect of the theater was fairylike. It was 
brilliantly illuminated and filled with ladies in full 
dress and blazing jewels, while the gentlemen were 
all in gorgeous uniforms. The Queen herself wore 
a magnificent diadem and a necklace of enormous 
diamonds. When the baUet was over, the curtain 
rose again for an apotheosis specially devised for 
the occasion, which represented Windsor Castle. 

192 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 

Delighted with, “the Mud thoughfulness of her 
hosts,” as Her Majesty expressed it, the Queen 
quickly turned towards the Empress and thanked 
her » effusively. Eugenie was particularly pleased 
with this, for it was, in fact, at her suggestion that 
this interlude was introduced. 

The following days were spent hy the Queen in 
visits to the Tuileries, the Louvre and other famous 
museums and edifices of Paris. The public had not 
entirely left the Louvre at the hour when the royal 
party arrived there. The heat was stifling. The 
Queen, seated in a rolling chair, was wheeled 
around the galleries, hut as soon as the public left 
the building she rose, and saying to the Empress, 
“Now I can take off my hat and mantle,” suited the 
action to the words, and, putting her things on the 
chair as if she had been in a salon, continued her 
visit on foot. 

Later, all drove past the Conciergerie, when the 
Emperor observed: “That is where I was im- 
prisoned.” The Queeh gazed intently at the historic 
jail, but said nothing. There, it will be remembered. 
Prince Louis Napoleon was confined during his trial 
in 1840, after the Boulogne affair. Eugenie thought 
she saw the Queen’s lips part twice, as if about to 
speak; but each time she closed them again with a 
determined muscular movement. The subject was 
a delicate one, and the Queen evidently felt that this 
was a moment when silence is golden. Both the 
Emperor and the Empress were several times 
struck, during this memorable visit, by the tact and 
astuteness of Her Majesty. 

The ball at the City Hall took place on the Thurs- 
day. Before that festivity, the Queen and Prince 

193 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Albert dined at the Tuileries with the Emperor, 
Princess Mathilde, the chief oflScers of the crown 
and General Canrobert. The Prince of Wales and 
Princess Victoria returned to Saint Cloud, where 
they dined with the Empress, as she was unable, 
owing to her then delicate state of health, to attend 
the ball. During the dinner at the Tuileries, the 
Queen stated that she had had time, notwithstand- 
ing her many engagements, to make several draw- 
ings or sketches, one of which represented the 
Gardes’ band at the Trianon, and the other a group 
of zouaves in the park at Saint Cloud. At a much 
later period I saw these specimens, with many 
others, of Victoria’s artistic talent, which was not 
of an ordinary character. In fact, she always re- 
gretted, she told the Empress, that she had not 
found, in her busy life, more leisure for work with 
pencil and brush. 

The ball given at the City Hall was truly mag- 
nificent. The Queen appeared in a white lace dress, 
wearing on her head a heavy diadem in which shone 
the famous jewel of the English crown, the Koh-i- 
Noor, while the Emperor wore the celebrated Ee- 
gent on his sword hilt. Uniforms of all colors, Arab 
burnous, ladies covered with gems and diamonds — 
all concurred to make the scene a wonderful and 
memorable one. The next day the Queen could not 
find words to teH how much she was impressed by 
this festivity. “The only shortcoming, but it was a 
great one,” remarked Her Majesty to the Empress, 
not perfunctorily but with evident sincerity, which 
was characteristic, “was your absence. My satis- 
faction would have been complete, if you could have 
enjoyed the whole beautiful fSte.” 

194 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 


The grand review on the Champ de Mars had 
been fixed for the following day, and the Queen 
expressed her desire to visit the tomb of Napoleon 
I the same afternoon. It was found necessary, 
owing to the very hot weather, to put off the review 
until five o’clock, and, naturally, that seemed to 
render the Queen’s visit to the Invalides on the 
same day impossible. Therefore, Marshal d’Or- 
nano, who was given temporary command at the 
Invalides, King Jerome, the great Napoleon’s 
brother, having expressed a wish not to be present 
on the occasion, was much surprised to receive a 
message tellmg him of the arrival of the sovereigns. 

Nothing could have been more impressive tba-n 
that twilight visit to Napoleon’s tomb. A violent 
storm burst over Paris at that moment; claps of 
thunder shook the windows of the chapel and the 
noise rumbled through the arches, while repeated 
fiashes of lightning gave an almost super-natural 
aspect to this impressive scene. Waterloo and Saint 
Helena rose in every mind, and the presence of the 
Queen of England before the coflSn of one whom her 
people had imprisoned drew tears to the eyes of all 
present. The Queen herself, who was much moved, 
said gently, turning to the Prince of Wales : “Kneel 
down at Napoleon’s tomb.” Later she wrote: “I 
was there, leaning on the arm of Napoleon, before 
the tomb of the most determined enemy of Eng- 
land, I, the grand-daughter of the king who hated 
him most bitterly, and there, near me, was his 
nephew who had become my nearest and dearest 
ally. It would seem that in the face of this mark 
of respect paid to a dead enemy, old hatreds and 
old jealousies should die away, and that Q-od had 

195 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

placed His seal on the union now so happily estab- 
lished between the two great and powerful nations. 
May God bless it indeed and prosper it. ’ ’ 

The Emperor, in his turn, had sent to the Moni- 
teur a note full of similar sentiments, which indi- 
cated much clear-sightedness and revealed true 
feeling; and though I was not an eye-witness of the 
scene, I know all its details, and can realize fully 
the genuine emotion shown both by the Emperor 
and by the Queen. 

The Queen visited delightful Saint Germain, and 
brought away many pleasant recollections of the 
superb view from the famous terrace, and of the 
cool drives through the broad alleys and under the 
stately trees of the magnificent forest. 

The day before her departure, a never-to-be-for- 
gotten fete was given in the Galerie des Glaces in 
the palace of Versailles. At the command of the 
Emperor, the gallery had been decorated in accord- 
ance with the details shown in old engravings, so 
as to represent a ball as given under Louis XV. 
The Queen, Prince Albert and their two children 
were delighted. The Emperor, who was in a very 
gay mood, had young Princess Victoria dance with 
him, and the traditional supper, as pictured in a 
celebrated water-colour by Eugene Lami, to be 
found in the Louvre collection, was served at small 
tables in the theater. 

Among the foreigners of note who were presented 
to the Queen during the party was Count Bismarck, 
then German minister at Frankfort, on a visit to 
Paris. Who could then have imagined that, fifteen 
years later, this soldier-diplomat would return to 
that same gallery in the ifile of the pitiless con- 

196 



IMPEEIAL AND EOYAL VISITS 

queror, and that in that very room would be de- 
clared the unity of the German Empire ! ^ 

The last day of the Queen’s visit, which \ras 
Sunday, and, at the same time. Prince Albert’s 
birthday, was passed in the strictest intimacy at 
Saint Cloud; and on Monday the royal visitors took 
leave. The adieus of the Prince of Wales and Prin- 
cess Victoria to the Empress were especially affect- 
ing and tender. They begged her to ask the Queen 
to leave them a few days longer in Paris. Eugenie 
promised to transmit their request but without giv- 
ing them much hope of success, “for,” she said to 
the little Prince, “I am sure the Queen and Prince 
Albert want to have their children with them at 
Balmoral.” “Oh! no,” replied the Prince of Wales, 
“they don’t really need us, they have so many more 
in England.” 

The Empress had become much attached to the 
children, paidicularly to Princess Victoria, who was 
very gentle and affectionate. Later, Eugenie often 
spoke of her winning manners. A picture by Muller 
representing the arrival of the Queen, Prince Al- 
bert and their children, used to hang over the grand 
staircase at Saint Cloud, where it was placed at the 
Empress’ request. Unfortunately, it was burnt at 
the destruction of the palace in 1870, in spite of the 
efforts made, at the command of Prince Frederick, 
husband of Princess Victoria, to save it. 

The Queen and the Empress both felt much real 
regret when taking leave of one another. Even at 
this early day. Queen Victoria was very kind in her 
attentions to Eugenie and during the days of sor- 
row which followed. Her Majesty never failed to 
display the true and lasting quality of her sympa- 

197 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

thy. “It is au revoir,” said the Emperor when leav- 
ing the Qneen at Boulogne. “Indeed, I hope so,” 
answered Victoria, while the Empress at Saint 
Cloud echoed these last farewells on the shores of 
the Channel, the closing acts of a memorable royal 
visit. 



CHAPTER IX 


GEEMAN AND ETJSSIAN EOYAX. VISITOES 

MtrcH importance was attaclied to tlie visit paid in 
1856 by Prince Frederick William of Prussia, who, 
in 1870, became Kaiser Wilhelm. He was at this 
time nearly sixty years of age, having been bom in 
1797, and, as son of King Frederick William III, 
was the brother and heir of Frederick William IV, 
whose health was very poor. It will be remembered 
that he came to the Prussian throne in January, 
1861. 

Charming both by the distinction of his manners 
and by his gallantry towards women, the Prince of 
Prussia deserved to have great success at the Court 
of the Tuileries. He showed marked respect for the 
Emperor and was soon on pleasant terms with us 
all. His deportment partook of the military officer 
and of the court gentleman, while his kindly appear- 
ance, his spirited conversation and his often 
familiar and joking talk, pleased aU whom he met. 
In a word, the future Emperor of Germany pro- 
cl .cca a strong impression on all the official world 
of the Second Empire. 

The Prince reached Paris from Osborne, accom- 
panied by General von Schreekenstein, commander- 
in-chief of the 7th Prussian army corps, and by 
General von Moltke, who was destined to become 
famous in later days. He was of course received 

199 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


with, much pomp. The Marquis de Toulongeon, 
Colonel and orderly officer of the Emperor, and 
Comte de Eiencourt, equerry, went to Calais to 
meet him. When he reached Paris on December 
11th, Prince Napoleon and his suite were at the 
Northern Railway station to receive him, and fbur 
of the finest Court carriages, escorted by a platoon 
of Gardes, carried him and his party to the Tuile- 
ries. At the foot of the great staircase in the palace, 
the grand Chamberlain and the Grand Master of 
Ceremonies awaited him. At the top of the stair- 
case stood the Emperor, who welcomed him warmly 
and conducted him immediately to the White Salon, 
where, surrounded by her household, the Empress 
was ready to greet the princely guest. This first 
moment was seized to impress on this German 
Prince our desire to do honor to his house and 
country, and the warmth of his reception was evi- 
dently fully appreciated by the Prince, both at that 
moment and throughout Ms sojourn in Paris. 

Sumptuous apartments had been reserved for the 
Prince of Prussia in the Pavilion de Marsan at 
the northwest comer of the Tuileries, which por- 
tion was burnt during the Commune but has now 
been rebuilt. That same evening, with his suite and 
the members of the legation, he dined at the Im- 
perial table, when the Prince made a most favor- 
able impression on aE who met Mm. 

On December 13th a review was passed in the 
Court of the Tuileries. Nine regiments of the line 
and three battalions of Chasseurs d pied filed by the 
sovereigns. These troops had aE served in the 
Crimean war, and were commanded by Marshal 
Magnan. The Emperor had by Ms side the Prince 

200 



E’OYAL VISITOES 


of Prussia and they were surrounded hy a brilliant 
staff among whom were Marshals Vaillant, Para- 
guay d’Hilliers, Pelissier, Canrobert and Bosquet. 
Accompanied by the ladies and officers of the house- 
hold, the Empress stood on the balcony of the grand 
Salle des Marechaux. After the review, the Em- 
peror, in the presence of the regimental flags, glori- 
ously pierced with shot and soiled by powder, dis- 
tributed crosses and medals. During the review, the 
young Prince Imperial, coming out of the Tuileries, 
passed between the lines of soldiers and was en- 
thusiastically cheered. What memories are awak- 
ened by that vision of the young heir standing thus 
in the presence of one whose visit was then a cause 
of rejoicing, and who, less than fifteen years later, 
was to deal such a fatal blow to his friendly hosts I 

The future Kaiser’s love of things military was 
noticeable during the ceremony. Eeeall how he 
studied every movement of the soldiers, examined 
the cut of their uniform and the shape of their 
utensils, put questions to the French officers near 
him, and in a word, showed that the smallest army 
details were not beneath his notice. It was said 
that he even made notes in the evening on what he 
saw and heard during the day. 

The program included a stay of two days at 
Fontainebleau. The Emperor and the Prince of 
Prussia arrived there on the 15th and spent the 
16th reviewing the dragoons and lancers. The Em- 
press arrived on the following morning and the rest 
of the day was spent in a stag-hunt, in the forest. 
But again it was remarked that, though the Prince 
was a good shot and greatly enjoyed the beautiful 
woods and the well-organised hunt, it was the sol- 

201 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

diers, the barracks and the gnns which received the 
most of his attention. 

The same evening the Court returned to Paris. 
On the 17th the Imperial Guard was reviewed in the 
court of the Tuileries. The Emperor, wearing the 
grand cordon of the Black Eagle, the highest of ’the 
German orders, and surrounded by a brilliant staff, 
yielded the post of honor on the side nearest the 
troops to the Prince of Prussia and often spoke to 
him. In spite of the bitter cold, the Empress again, 
accompanied by a certain number of the ladies, wit- 
nessed the review from the balcony of the Salle 
des Marechaux. Among these ladies was the 
Countess of Hatzfeld, daughter of the Marquis de 
Castellane and wife of the Prussian minister to 
Paris. She will be mentioned again further on in 
this chapter. 

That same evening, at the palace of the Prussian 
Legation, a dinner was given in honor of the 
Prince, chiefly to military guests, among whom were 
seven marshals of France and General Regnaud de 
St. Jean d’Angely, commander of the Garde. The 
Prince spoke much on military matters with several 
of these officers, and charmed all his hearers, it was 
said afterwards by one of those present. At the 
select ball which was given on the following day in 
the Salle des Marechaux, the Prince of Prussia ap- 
peared very lively and remained till three in the 
morning. He gave good evidences of his skill as a 
dancer, though he was far from perfect in this art. 

The Prince visited Saint Cyr, the French military 
school, on December 19th, where he witnessed 
several exercises performed by the cadets and went 
away well satisfied with all he had seen. In conver- 

202 



EOYAL VISITOES 


satiou later, lie praised several features of this 
famous school and complimented some of the offi- 
cers on the proficiency of their pupils. Thus ended 
the military receptions given in honor of the 
Prince of Prussia, -who had not lost his time and had 
wSll employed his inspecting faculties. 

The fine arts, in which Paris was so rich and 
Berlin then so poor, also had their part in the 
program of the festivities attending the Prince’s 
visit. He was present at a representation of the 
Corsaire at the Opera, in which Eosati, the famous 
Italian ballet dancer, appeared. He went the day 
before his departure to the Comedie Prangaise with 
the Emperor and the Empress. On these occasions, 
he displayed an intelligent appreciation of music 
and the drama, and did not hesitate to give his 
views about composers, singers, playwrights, the 
State theater, and so forth. But it was evident that 
he was not so much at home on these subjects as on 
his favorite theme, the army and government. 

On the day of his leaving Paris, the Prince once 
again dined with the court and the members of the 
German Legation. The greatest cordiality pre- 
vailed. The Marquis de Toulongeon and the Comte 
de Eiencourt accompanied the Prince as far as 
Strasbourg, when he finally turned homewards. 
They were ordered by the Emperor to treat him 
with marked attention to the very frontier, and this 
order was faithfully carried out, as the Prince him- 
self informed us by telegram. 

The warmth with which the Prince of Prussia had 
been received could not escape the notice of Europe. 
The relations between France and Prussia were as 
friendly as possible at that date, and the Emperor 

203 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

was desirous of securing the assistance of that 
Power in the event of any alterations ooeurring in 
the distribution of European territories. Prince 
William had shown himself to be very charming 
and evidently felt that there were many reasons 
why an exchange of friendly attentions should' be 
made. He perceived also that the Countess of Hatz- 
feld was much appreciated by the Emperor and 
Empress, and that she strove earnestly to unite the 
two coxmtries as closely as possible. It is much to 
be deplored that her diplomatic career was so soon 
ended by the death of her husband ; for had she been 
Ambassadress of Prussia in 1870, she would surely 
have played an important part and perhaps might 
have smoothed over the difficulties which led to the 
fatal war; for, at that date, all were on the friend- 
liest terms, and the Emperor, too, highly appreci- 
ated her kindness and sympathy, which were fully 
reciprocated. 

During the spring of 1857 an event occuirred 
which was justly considered to have considerable 
significance and which proved indeed the prelude to 
a definite reconciliation between France and Rus- 
sia. This was the visit to France of the Grand Duke 
Constantine Nicolaievitch, brother of Emperor 
Alexander II, Grand Admiral of Russia, hitherto a 
most enthusiastic partisan of his 'father’s bellig- 
erent policy and during the Crimean war openly 
opposed to all efforts of conciliation. No wonder, 
therefore, that his arrival in Paris was looked upon 
as an occurrence of great importance, which justi- 
fies a somewhat detailed account of this much- 
heralded visit. 

The Grand Duke landed at Toulon on April 20th, 

204 



EOTAL VISITOES 


and was the honored guest in that military , port 
during several days which were devoted to banquets 
and festivities of all kinds. He then proceeded to 
Paris, where he arrived on April 30th and was 
welcomed by Prince Napoleon, and numerous other 
high functionaries. Two squadrons of the Eegiment 
of Gardes formed the escort. The procession 
passed along the boulevards, the Eue de la Pais, the 
Eue de Eivoli, under the triumphal arch of the Car- 
rousel, and reached the TuUeries palace by a road 
bordered on either side by Gardes. This display of 
the finest soldiers of the French army, a very com- 
mon custom in France under all regimes, was made 
for several purposes. In the first place, the Grand 
Duke was pleased with everything military and it 
was a delicate compliment to bim to surround >iim 
with this elite. The Emperor desired also to show 
this representative of Eussia, Europe in general 
and the French people in particular, that, notwith- 
standing the rather inglorious results of the Cri- 
mean war, France still possessed a magnificent 
army and was still ani m ated by a martial spirit as 
of old. 

When the arrival of the Grand Duke was an- 
nounced at the Tuileries, the Emperor came to the 
top of the staircase to receive him, and at once con- 
ducted him to the WHbiite Salon where the Empress 
was waiting. That same evening there was a large 
dinner-party at the Tuileries, and the next day the 
Grand Duke visited the Louvre. He was partic- 
ularly interested by the Sovereign’s museum con- 
taining objects which had belonged to Charlemagne, 
to the Capetian and Valois kings, the Bourbons and 
the Napoleons. He stopped long in front of the 

205 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


gray coat and the little Marengo hat of the first 
Bonaparte; nor did he fail, later, to visit Na- 
poleon’s tomb at the Invalides, as, indeed, was then 
the custom with all the other royal visitors who 
came to Paris. In fact, this official worship of the 
great Napoleon was a credo of the Second Empire 
practised not only by the French court and govern- 
ment, but by many of the courts and governments, 
especially the courts, of other European states. So 
while Napoleon III never wearied of studying the 
thoughts and actions of Napoleon I, and of con- 
tinually placing these thoughts and actions before 
the eyes of the French people, the royalties of Con- 
tinental Europe who wished to ingratiate them- 
selves with the French court and government con- 
sidered that one of the best ways to accomplish this 
end was to show an interest in this same credo. The 
Emperor, however, was not blind to the occasional 
insincerity of this foreign incense but accepted it as 
honest because it exactly squared with his own 
policy — ^worship of Bonaparte. 

During the inspection of the Marine Museum, 
which took place after the visit to the Louvre pic- 
ture galleries, the Grand Duke found a good oppor- 
tunity to show his considerable naval knowledge, 
for it must not be forgotten that he was one of the 
favorite pupils of that famous Eussian navigator 
and explorer. Count Lutke. Nor was the Grand 
Duke without great merit quite on his own account, 
for his Fabian policy when he commanded the Eus- 
sian fieet in the Baltic during 1854-55, prevented the 
British from gaining any decisive victory. 

A grand ball was given by the Minister of the 
Marine, and the Duke walked round the rooms with 

206 



EOYAL VISITOES 


Princess MatMlde on his arm. Next came a select 
party at the City Hall consisting of a concert and 
dances followed by a supper in the Throne room. 
Then there was a dinner at the Invalides with King 
Jerome, a ball at the Tuileries, gala perfoimances 
at the Opera, a visit to the fortress of Vincennes, 
several days spent in attending the events on the 
newly opened race-course in the Bois de Boulogne 
— ^nothing, in short, was spared that might interest 
and amuse the honored guest. Finally, in this con- 
nection, was a grand review on May 6th of the 
Gardes and the Paris garrison, on the Champ de 
Mars. This review was notable from the fact that 
it was the first time all the regiments of the Gardes 
were united under one command and in the same 
review. Thus there were the battalion of Chasseurs 
a pied, four regiments of light cavalry, the three 
regiments of grenadiers, a regiment of zouaves, 
engineers. Gendarmes, two artillery regiments, 
equipment wagons, and so forth, the Guides, Cui- 
rassiers, Chasseurs, Lancers and the Dragoons of 
the Empress. The Emperor rode over the Pont 
d’Jena to the Champ de Mars, having at his side the 
Grand Duke Constantine, Prince Napoleon, and the 
Duke of Nassau, while behind them rode the Mar- 
shals Baraguay d’Hilliers, Pelissier, Canrobert and 
Bosquet. The standards and flags of the newly 
formed regiments of the Gardes were handed to 
their colonels by the Emperor in person. Escorted 
and surrounded by a platoon of Gardes, the Em- 
press witnessed the review from an open carriage. 
Later, she watched the troops from the balcony of 
the Military school as they filed past. 

This grand review, which passed off with eclat, 

207 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


made a sensation not only in Paris but throughout 
Europe and did not a little to increase the military 
prestige of France ; which was the very purpose the 
Emperor had in view. While honoring the Grand 
Duke, he was augmenting his own power. This was 
another credo of the Second Empire. 

On May 11th the Emperor, the Prince Imperial 
and the Empress went to Fontainebleau to spend a 
few days there in company with the Grand Dpke 
Constantine, the Grand Duchess Stephanie of 
Baden and Prince Nicolas of Nassau. Delighted by 
this unexpected visit, the citizens of Fontainebleau 
spared no pains to greet us with every mark of 
enthusiasm. The streets were decorated for our 
arrival in the afternoon, and brilliantly illuminated 
in the evening as a sign of general rejoicing. The 
stag-hunt on the 12th was very magnificent. A great 
concourse of people gathered at the rendezvous, 
and the imperial party, speaking as genially as pos- 
sible with the persons around it, was highly pleased 
to find it was everywhere greeted with enthusiastic 
cheers. This kindly reception of the father and 
mother of the Prince Imperial and the "wife of the 
Emperor bespoke the popularity of the Court, which 
was another, though perhaps a minor, sign of the 
increasing solidity of the regime. It, too, made a 
certain impression, we learned later, on the Grand 
Duke and the other foreign notabilities then at Fon- 
tainebleau. 

In the evening there was a torch-light hunt. The 
gates into the castle grounds were left open, so that 
the public was able to enter and show its enthus- 
iasm. The following days were spent in long walks 
and drives through the forest and the neighbour- 

208 



BOYAE VISITOES 


hood of Fontainebleau, a grand dinner in the Gal- 
erie Henri II and the inauguration of a pretty- 
theater constructed hy the architect Lefuel in the 
right wing of the castle. On that occasion the actors 
of the Comedie Frangaise played "with their usual 
talent and the Grand Duke could not praise too 
highly this excellent troupe. On the 14th, the last 
day of the Grand Duke’s stay, there was a large 
dinner party in the forest, preceded by a long walk. 
The return to the castle at night was made by 
torch-light, about nine o’clock, and two hours later 
the Emperor himself conducted his guest to the 
station and bade him a cordial farewell. 

They always liked to recall that short stay at 
Fontainebleau, which had occurred this year much 
earlier in the season than usual. It was this season 
that the Prince Imperial made his first attempts at 
walking, in a spot he learned to love so dearly iu 
after years. It was also during this visit that the 
final reconciliation with Eussia was effected after 
so many years of chivalrous but bloody struggles; 
for the Emperor made the most of the many oc- 
casions afforded him to speak confidentially and at 
length with the Grand Duke and the diplomats, both 
French and Eussian, who were of the party. The 
political horizon then appeared clear and cloudless, 
both at home and abroad, for the Emperor and the 
Empress both enjoyed great popularity, the latter 
being particularly well treated at this moment. All 
these causes united in making this sojourn at Fon- 
tainebleau very enjoyable and explain why it was 
ever remembered with peculiar pleasure. 

The visit of King Maximilian II of Bavaria fol- 
lowed immediately upon that of the Grand Duke 

209 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Constantine. He had strongly manifested a desire 
to spend a few days at the Court of Napoleon III 
and had been encouraged by the Baron de Meneval, 
French Ambassador in Munich, to undertake a jour- 
ney which, he knew, could have only pleasant exper- 
iences in store for him. „ 

Maximilian II mounted the throne of Bavaria 
when his father. King Louis, abdicated, in 1848. He 
was a man of cultured mind, a lover of letters and 
the sciences and was well versed in philosophical 
studies. But by far the most interesting fact about 
him was that, though he had married the daughter 
of Prince Frederick William of Prussia, he was 
known to be opposed to the project, then greatly 
stirring the Teutonic public, which favored the 
unification of Germany with the King of Prussia as 
its head. Fortunately for his spirit of independ- 
ence, he died before this was accomplished and it 
was left to his son to experience the humiliation of 
seeing Bavaria sink into the German Empire, which 
happened in November, 1870. 

The King reached Lyons on the evening of May 
15, 1857, and was received with much state at the 
railway station. The troops of the garrison were all 
gathered at the entrance, while Marshal de Castel- 
lane, commander-in-ehief, took his place on the 
right of the carriage to which the King was con- 
ducted, and which was drawn by four fine horses. 
The Emperor sent to Lyons several officers of his 
household to meet the King, among them being 
Comte de Tascher de la Pagerie, first Chamberlain, 
a relative of the Empress, who, as is stated else- 
where in these memoirs, had been educated in 
Bavaria, wheye he had many acquaintances. He 

210 



EOYAL VISITORS 


was a great favorite with King Maximilian. Thus 
were the Emperor’s attentions, as was his wont, 
carried into the smallest details. 

After a review of the troops on the Place Belle- 
eour, Lyons, the Zing of Bavaria left for Paris on 
May 17th, and reached Fontainebleau at six o’clock 
and the palace a few minutes later. Followed by 
officers of his household, the Emperor advanced to 
meet the King as far as the foot of the staircase, 
while the Empress stood at the head, surrounded by 
the ladies of her suite. The presentations took 
place in the Galerie Frangois I, after which the din- 
ner was served in the Galerie Henri II, always so 
beautiful with its Primatiecio frescoes. The fol- 
lowing day the Emperor and King of Bavaria drove 
through the forest of Fontainebleau in a little car- 
riage which the Emperor was fond of driving him- 
self. Numerous guests from Paris had been invited 
to be present during the sojourn of King Maxi- 
milian at the palace, and their attendance added 
greatly to the interest of the occasion. 

During the Second Empire the Emperor utihzed 
all the fine things of Prance to augment the eclat 
of the regime. For instance, nobody before him 
brought to bear in such a thorough manner the won- 
derful natural attractions of the Fontainebleau 
forest. This was especially the case during the visit 
of the King of Bavaria. Thus, the day after his ar- 
rival, there was a grand promenade through the 
forest, the King being accompanied by the Grand 
Dowager Duchess of Baden, Princess Marie of 
Baden, the Duchess of Hamilton and all the guests 
at the palace. In the evening, favored by the splen- 
did weather, a night fete was given winch turned 

211 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

the palace and grounds into fairyland. Colored 
lights innumerahle shone in the English garden and 
gave the appearance of operatic scenery to the 
strangely constructed castle. Decorated and illum- 
inated boats floated over the lake, while on the 
pavilion in the center of the lake the band of «the 
Grenadiers of the Gardes alternated with the 
orchestra from the Opera. The evening ended with 
a grand display of fire works, some of which, break- 
ing over the water, falling like showers of stars into 
its dark depths, or skimming lightly in brilliant rays 
between the shining boats, produced a most wonder- 
ful and original effect. On May 22d the beautiful 
wild gorge of Apremont was chosen as the grand 
dining-room in which an open air repast was of- 
fered to the King. 

In after years, when the Emperor would some- 
times talk over with the Empress the bright days of 
the past, these sojourns at Fontainebleau often 
rushed back to them in most vivid colors. The his- 
toric scenes of which the palace had been the center 
and the great Bonaparte the principal actor, and 
the picturesqueness and beauty of this superb 
forest all helped to make an indelible impression on 
both of them, which remained with the Emperor to 
the very day of his death. Recollections of this visit 
of King Maximilian were an especially bright spot 
in these souvenirs of Fontainebleau. 

The return to Paris took place on May 24th. The 
King of Bavaria and the French sovereigns were 
received at the station by Prince Napoleon, who had 
just returned from a journey to Germany, as will 
be seen a few pages further on in this chapter. On 
this occasion again the Prince appeared at his best 

212 



EOYAL VISITOES 


and was a real aid to the Emperor. He was diplo- 
matic, measured in his language and made none of 
those “mistakes” of which so many of the Second 
Empire statesmen complained. 

King Maximilian during his stay in the capital 
oScupied the Pavilion de Marsan. He, of course, 
found sufficient time, in spite of all the dinners and 
fetes, to visit the tomb of Napoleon. Everywhere he 
was enthusiastically welcomed, and was evidently 
much pleased at the attentions of which he was the 
object. He dined at Saint Cloud and delighted the 
ladies and gentlemen of the court, with all of whom 
he chatted most graciously, by his genial manners 
and lively conversation. It was noted that he spoke 
with equal sureness about matters of art, letters, 
politics and military affairs. His well-known oppo- 
sition to Prussian aggrandizement was, of course, 
not the least of the reasons for his success in French 
court and political circles. 

Maximilian 11 left Paris on June 8th to return 
to his states, carrying away with him pleasant im- 
pressions of his journey to France, which he often 
liked to recall. At that time the Imperial govern- 
ment was on the best of terms with the G-eman 
nations, and the Emperor, who was always much 
interested in German literature, and had a real af- 
fection for Germany itself, where so much of his 
youth had been spent, awakened in the King a feel- 
ing of strong personal affection whidi endured to 
the end. 

The Emperor was ever anxious to strengthen the 
friendly ties which already existed between France 
and the German states so as to make use of these 

213 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


good relations some day, perhaps. He wished to 
conciliate Russia, to gain Prussia’s firm alliance, 
and to foster the friendly feelings of the secondary 
states of Germany, while alienating them as much 
as possible from Austria, in view of the eventuality 
of his having to intervene in the relations of th^ 
power with Italy. So in 1857 the Emperor offi- 
cially sent his cousin. Prince Napoleon, to Berlin 
and to Dresden, choosing the very time when the 
Grand Duke Constantine and the King of Bavaria 
were the honored guests of the Tuileries. It will 
be remembered that the first of these personages 
was the second son of the Czar Nicolas I and played 
a prominent part in the Crimean war; and that he 
married a German princess. So, by showing him 
attentions, the Emperor was conciliating both Rus- 
sia and Germany. 

Prince Napoleon in France and Prince Napoleon 
abroad were two very different persons. In France, 
he was ever a malcontent, an exaggerated liberal, 
a democrat who delighted in upsetting the plans of 
the Government ; let him but cross the frontiers and 
he became the Prince, the grand seigneur, the dip- 
lomat, the intelligent, wary, cultured gentleman, 
more capable than any other of seconding his 
cousin’s views and of obtaining for him the friend- 
ship of those whom he desired to court. Prince 
Napoleon has had many detractors and quite as 
many adulators, but the estimate of neither was 
exactly correct. He never forgot that he was a Bon- 
apartist, and even if he did, his interlocutors could 
not, because of the very striking likeness which he 
bore to the great Napoleon. When advancing years 
and obesity had markedly changed Ike appearance 

214 



EOYAL VISITOES 


of his younger years, his face still preserved the 
Napoleonic features. 

Prince Napoleon was met at Magdehourg by Gen- 
eral von Brand and General von Treskow, who 
escorted him to Berlin, where he was ofiBcially re- 
ceived on May 8th, by Prince George of Prussia, 
Princes Augustus and William of Wiirtemberg, 
Prince William of Baden, the Marquis de Moustier, 
then French Minister to Prussia, and all the staff of 
the Legation, who awaited his arrival at the station. 
So bent was Frederick William IV on showing his 
good will towards France, that, waiving all the pre- 
scriptions of court etiquette, according to which the 
Prince should have paid him the first visit that 
evening, the King himself came, shortly after the 
arrival of his guest, to pay him a surprise-visit, 
which was immediately returned, when His Majesty 
presented the Prince to the Queen and the Prin- 
cesses, and in the evening accompained him to the 
Opera. The following day he courteously gave the 
Prince the place of hcnor during the review in 
Unter den Linden. That same evening there was a 
grand court banquet at which the healths of the 
French Prince and that of the Emperor’s family 
were drunk, with appropriate speeches. 

Prince Napoleon had much intellectual force. He 
could speak well and write well. In fact, he was 
perhaps more clever with his tongue than with his 
pen; and if the formal toasts at this dinner-table 
were not orations, in his private conversations with 
the King, his advisors and the Prussian official 
world generally, the Prince’s well-known gift of 
speech accomplished wonders. He never believed 
that silence was golden, especially during this par- 

215 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

tioular visit to Germany. Prince Napoleon even laid 
aside, on this occasion, his well-known Voltairian 
principles, so bent was he on being faithful to the 
fulfillment of his part as representative of the Em- 
peror, and though he cared little about religious 
duties, he officially heard mass in the CathoMc 
church, where the Grand Master of Ceremonies 
awaited him. 

During his stay in Germany, the Prince spent 
several evenings at the Opera, when he astonished 
some of the German composers, who were invited 
to meet him, by his large knowledge of German 
music and German musical writers. He received the 
corps diplomatique, having an intelligent word for 
the chief of each mission, and warmly welcomed the 
great savant, Baron von Humboldt, who came to 
pay his respects to Napoleon’s representative, with 
whom the Prince talked learnedly on scientific prob- 
lems, listening with evident pleasure to the Baron’s 
accounts of his wide travels. At Potsdam, Prince 
Napoleon visited the tomb of the Great Frederick, 
where he learned that the keeper who opened the 
gates had known the Prussian hero, that it was this 
same keeper who in 1806 had shown the tomb to 
Napoleon I, and now, in 1857, conducted thither the 
nephew of the conqueror of lena and the victim of 
Waterloo. Prince Napoleon often dwelt upon this 
-little coincidence in his German visit and long re- 
membered the name of this humble and aged porter. 

Prince Napoleon was present at the military 
maneuvers presided over by the Prince of Prussia 
to whom he had brought the grand cordon of the 
Legion of Honor, and having been everywhere the 

216 



EOYAL VISITORS 


object of most marked attentions, be left Berlin on 
May 14tb for the Court of Saxony. 

The welcome he received from King John was no 
less cordial than that of Frederick William IV. He 
visited many historic battlefields, and met, among 
other famous men. Count von Beust, then president 
of the council of Ministers of Saxony, but ten years 
later Prime Minister of Austria. He also spent an 
evening with the dowager-queen and the Arch- 
duchess Sophia, mother of the present Emperor of 
Austria. These acquaintances were of value when 
the Austro-Prussian war occurred in 1866, as they 
enabled Prince Napoleon to explain many matters 
to his cousin that the Tuileries otherwise would only 
have half understood. 

On the occasion of the King’s birthday. Prince 
Napoleon proceeded to Pilhiitz to offer his congrat- 
ulations, and was then taken by the Saxon sovereign 
to Moritzbourg, a hunting box erected in the woods 
by the Elector Augustus, King of Poland. After a 
dinner enlivened by the music of hunting horns, the 
party walked to a glade in the forest where a curi- 
ous spectacle was witnessed — ^troops of deer, stags, 
and does coming in perfect freedom from all their 
hiding places, to take the food which is distributed 
to them at certain hours each day. “This was the 
peaceful and rural note in this royal visit,” wrote 
the Prince, “where politics and military matters 
pushed all else into the background.” 

On his return to Paris on May 24th the Prince 
had much to tell Napoleon III concerning the 
cordial attentions of which he had been the object, 
and he had certainly completely fulfilled the wishes 
of the Emperor in showing himself most friendly 

217 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


towards the Court of Berlin. Yet the Empress was 
far from sharing Napoleon’s enthusiasm for Ger- 
many. Even then, she felt some alarm as she wit- 
nessed all these tokens of amity shown the German 
states. Eugenie was continually asking herself the 
question : Are our advances sincerely accepted? «She 
doubted it, and I see now that her doubts were well 
founded. 

The Emperor and the Empress left Saint Cloud 
for the Isle of Wight on August 5, 1857. The fol- 
lowing day they were within sight of Osborne. 
Prince Albert, accompanied by his second son, the 
Duke of Edinburgh, came on the Queen’s yacht to 
meet them, and they were most cordially welcomed 
by Queen Victoria. Charmingly hospitable and 
gracious, she gave them a hearty welcome at Os- 
borne, the enchanted home she and her husband had 
built on the finest spot to be found in the island, 
of which she was justly proud. 

Immediately after lunch, the Prince Consort had 
a long conversation with the Emperor. Two days 
later an important interview took place between the 
Queen, the Prince Consort, the Emperor, Lord 
Palmerston, Lord Clarendon, Count Walewski, and 
Comte de Persigny. On that occasion the Emperor 
did not insist, as has been sometimes stated, on the 
adoption of his proposal for the union of the Dan- 
ubian principalities under the scepter of a foreign 
prince, but merely asked the British Government to 
disavow its ambassador at Constantinople and sup- 
port the demand addressed by Prance, Prussia and 
Sardinia to the Sublime Porte for the annulment of 
the Moldavian elections. 

218 



EOTAL VISITOES 


On Friday, the 7th, the two courts were out on 
the sea for some hours on the royal yacht Victoria 
and Albert. The weather was glorious and the Em- 
press, who was always so fond of the water, was 
delighted; and the rest of the distinguished party 
also appeared to enjoy themselves greatly. In the 
evening, there was a grand dinner at the castle. On 
the Saturday, after a political conference, a small 
ball was held under a marquise. Sunday was, of 
course, very quiet. Prince Albert, who was very 
fond of agriculture, took his guests on a tour of 
inspection over his farms, giving to them ideas of 
his own concerning horticulture, and affording all 
an opportunity to admire his machines and latest 
improvements in buildings. 

On Monday, the 10th, the Emperor and Empress 
embarked at Osborne to return to Harve. The 
leave-taking between Queen Victoria and her guests 
was marked by the greatest cordiality. Before his 
departure, the Emperor invited the Duke of Cam- 
bridge to come and spend a few days with him at 
the camp at Chalons. The Queen, who was much 
pleased by this cordial invitation tendered to the 
commander-in-chief of the British army, said to the 
Emperor; “We must seize every occasion to show 
our two peoples that even our armies can march 
side by side.” 

Two days after the departure of her guests, 
Queen Victoria, writing to her uncle, the King of 
the Belgians, summed up the Osborne interview in 
the following manner: “The visit was from all 
points of view satisfactory and agreeable. Politi- 
cally, it has been a great blessing from God, for the 
unhappy difficulties in the Principalities have been 

219 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


smoothed out and regulated in a satisfactory fash- 
ion. The whole interview was quiet and agreeable. 
Dear Osborne lost nothing of its familiar and un- 
pretentious character. The Emperor spoke frankly 
to Albert, and Albert did likewise with him, which 
is a great advantage. Lord Palmerston said to* me 
on the last day: ‘The Prince can say many things 
which we camiot say.’ ” 

The Queen went so far as to pay a most flattering 
complunent to the Empress, which need not be re- 
peated here, though, on account of its political bear- 
ing, I may be permitted to make this further 
extract: “Albert, who rarely cares for ladies or 
princesses, likes the Empress very much; she is his 
great ally.” This last phrase it quite true. On this 
and other occasions, Eugenie did all in her power 
to strengthen the English alliance. 

On his return to France, Napoleon wrote on 
August 15th to his royal hostess ; “We left Osborne 
so deeply touched by the amiable welcome of Your 
Majesty and the Prince, and so filled with admira- 
tion at the spectacle of all the virtues exhibited by 
the royal family of England, that it is difficult for 
me to find expressions to define the devoted and 
tender sentiments which we cherish for Your 
Majesty. I think when one has passed some days in 
your intimacy, one must become a better being. 
Please tell the Prince, who so nobly shares your 
destiny, that I have for him the highest esteem and 
the truest friendship, which proves how much I care 
for him. As for Your Majesty’s children, they are 
an gifted with such excellent and charming qualities 
that one has but to see them in order to love them; 

220 



EOYAL VISITORS 


so it is only natural that we should wish them all the 
happiness they deserve.” 

These lines have been printed in another form; 
hut this is the text as it left the Emperor’s pen, for 
he it was who wrote this letter and not the French 
Minister of Foreign Affairs. 

In her reply to the Emperor, the Queen declares 
with her customary simplicity what affection she 
has for her “well beloved husband who has no other 
ambition than to do good and to make himself use- 
ful whenever he can.” The Queen again compli- 
mented Eugenie. The compliment may be given here 
because it is associated in these womanly words, 
with that paid the Prince Consort : 

“In a position so isolated as that which we oc- 
cupy, we can have no greater consolation or surer 
support than the sympathy and advice of him or her 
who is called to share our destiny in life; and the 
dear Empress, with her generous instincts, is your 
guardian angel, as the Prince is my true friend.” 
These were the kindly words which brought to a 
close this delightful sojourn on English soil. 

In August, just two years before, as we have 
already seen, the English sovereigns officially 
visited the Emperor and Empress. This, therefore, 
was the return visit. In the interval, important 
events had occurred in both countries. In France, 
an heir to the throne had been bom, peace with Rus- 
sia signed and the young Empire more solidly 
established in every respect. In England, there was 
a general weakening of the Palmerston administra- 
tion. Although a new Parliament was chosen a few 
months before the Emperor and Empress crossed 
over to the Isle of Wight, “the dashing Prime Min- 

221 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUOENIE 


ister,” as Napoleon termed him, was doomed to 
defeat and the fall came a few months after their 
return to France. But all these events on both sides 
of the Channel had no weakening influence on the 
good understanding between Great Britain and 
France and several of them strengthened it. Tn- 
deed, the day was rapidly approaching — ^it came in 
January, 1860 — ^when the Emperor and Cobden 
established free trade in France, so that thence- 
forth there was a commercial as well as a political 
union between the two great nations. Referring to 
this economic revolution, the Emperor exclaimed 
one day: “Some quidnuncs declare that this is an- 
other Waterloo for us ; but they will live to see that 
it is an Austerlitz for both countries.” It may be 
added that it was this exchange of visits in 1855 and 
1857 which paved the way to this new economic 
system. 

The first step towards a reconciliation between 
France and Russia after the Crimean war was 
taken in 1856 when Napoleon sent a mission of 
extraordinary briUianey, headed by Comte de 
Momy, to represent him at the coronation of the 
Czar Alexander II. It had now become desirable 
that an occasion should bfe found for drawing the 
two sovereigns into a closer union. A suitable op- 
portunity presented itself in the autumn of 1857 at 
Stuttgart, where the Emperor Alexander was visit- 
ing members of his family, and where Napoleon III 
had decided to return the visit paid him the pre- 
ceding year by the King of Wurtemberg, shortly 
after the birth of the Prince Imperial. The inter- 
view, which had been talked of for several months, 

222 



EOYAL VISITOES 

was at length decided upon for tlio end of Sep- 
tember. 

The Emperor Napoleon had just passed several 
weeks at Chalons, where particularly interestiag 
military maneuvers had taken place on this cele- 
brated drilling ground in the presence of the Duke 
of Cambridge. In every way the reception offered 
to the Queen’s uncle, commandex-in-chief of the 
English army, had been most cordial; but as the 
Emperor was now to meet the Czar of Eussia on 
friendly terms, it was more than ever necessary to 
let it be seen that the English alliance would in no 
way be endangered by the proposed interview. 
After events showed that this was true, for, as is 
more than once pointed out in these memoirs, from 
the beginning to the end of the Second Empire, one 
of the cardinal principles of the foreign pohcy of 
the Emperor was friendly relations with Great 
Britain, in whi^^h respect he differed radically from 
his great uncle. In fact, among the few things which 
Napoleon III criticized in the conduct of the affairs 
of the First Empire was the failure of Napoleon I 
to live on amicable terms with the English nation. 
On this point, the Empress held the same view as 
her husband and always did what she could to 
strengthen the bonds between France and “the 
natural ally of France.” 

King William of Wiirtemberg, so cordially re- 
ceived in Paris during the month of April, 1856, 
was delighted to have an opportunity of doing the 
honors of his capital on the occasion of Napoleon’s 
visit. Princess Mathilde, grand-daughter of King 
Frederick of Wiirtemberg, had gone to Stuttgart 
the preceding year to offer birthday congratula- 

223 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

tions to her uncle, King William, and she had been 
much appreciated and sought after; moreover, 
Queen Sophie of Holland, daughter of the King of 
Wiirtemberg, had always shown a strong friendship 
for Napoleon III. On the other hand, Alexander II 
was a very near relation of the royal family; his 
father, Nicholas II, having been the son of a princess 
of Wiirtemberg, a woman of great intellectual 
power, who had been known at the court of Marie 
Antoinette as the Comtesse du Nord; while the 
prince royal of Wiirtemberg, bom of the second 
marriage of his father, was married to the Grand 
Duchess Olga. These numerous alliances between 
the houses of Eussia and Wiirtemberg had been 
strengthened by frequent friendly meetings and 
exchanges of amicable sentiments, so that the Em- 
peror Napoleon when at Stuttgart found himself 
one of a genial family party. Nor is it too much to 
say that he was loved and honored in that circle 
where he exercised a good and wise influence. 

This meeting of the Emperors was viewed with 
friendly eyes by the whole of Germany, excepting 
perhaps the Austrian states, so that the journey 
from Strasbourg to Stuttgart was one long and 
enthusiastic ovation. It offered, by the way, a good 
example of Napoleon’s habit, in the early years of 
his reign, of conducting, so far as possible, the 
foreign affairs of Prance by direct intercourse be- 
tween himself and foreign sovereigns, supported by 
their ministers of foreign affairs. Napoleon III 
never liked to delegate diplomatic business. He had 
traveled widely, had had extensive experience with 
men of different nations, and he naturally felt that 
he could handle with success delicate international 

224 



EOYAL VISITOES 


matters. The diplomacy of the Second Empire 
•would have fewer mistakes to record if Napoleon 
could always have pursued this 'wise plan. 

The Emperor started from Chalons, reviewed the 
cavalry divisions at Luneville on the Lorraine 
frontier on September 24th and arrived at Stras- 
bourg at three o’clock on that afternoon, accom- 
panied by Generals Failly and Fleury, his aides de 
camp, and Prince Joachim Murat, his orderly offi- 
cer. The reception was magnificent; flowers were 
strewn before the sovereign, triumphal arches had 
been erected, and all the houses were hung with gar- 
lands and profusely decorated. The Emperor had 
mounted on leaving the station, and before going 
to the prefecture where he was to sleep, he reviewed 
the to'wn division on the Place Kleber. 

This popular reception, one of the countless simi- 
lar ovations which occurred throughout the reign, 
well illustrates the powerful hold which the Bona- 
parte family has always had on Prance, and makes 
one regret that a turbulent minority could not bring 
themselves to join with the people and thus bring 
about a real “era of good feeling,” which would 
have united the whole nation under one head, and 
prevented the future disasters which fell upon the 
country. 

Frederick William Louis, son-in-law of the 
Prince of Prussia and Grand Duke of Baden, ar- 
rived that evening at Baden. He had been the Em- 
peror’s guest in 1855, and, consequently, was de- 
sirous of welcoming Napoleon cordially. He -wished 
the Emperor to stop, if only for a few hours, with 
him at Manheim or at Baden, and in the end ob- 
tained Napoleon’s consent to lunch with him in the 

225 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


latter town. Here is another example of the very 
cordial relations which at this epoch united Prance 
and Germany and which would have continued to 
the end if Napoleon could have had his way. 

Leaving Strasbourg, therefore, at eight o’clock, 
the Emperor crossed Kehl, which was profusely 
decorated with French and Baden flags, and arrived 
at ten o’clock at the station of Baden, where he was 
received by the Grand Duke, Grand Duchess 
Stephanie and the Prince of Prussia. He lunched 
with the Grand Duke’s family and the future king 
of Prussia, Kaiser "Wilhelm. When leaving the pal- 
ace, the Grand Duke showed the Emperor a com- 
pany of the guards who still retained the flag they 
had carried under the First Empire, when the 
Baden soldiers were the comrades in arms of the 
French, another striking example of the friendly 
relations which then prevailed. 

Leaving Baden at half past one, the Emperor was 
convinced by what he saw and heard, both in the 
Ettle watering town then so fashionable and along 
the whole length of the road to Stuttgart, of the 
great popularity with which his visit was regarded 
in the German states; for everywhere he was 
greeted with real enthusiasm. 

At Rastatt he was visited by two princes from 
Baden who came to pay their respects; the Grand 
Duke and the Prince of Prussia accompanied him to 
Carlsruhe; while the Grand Duchess Stephanie was 
stiR more attentive and did not stop until they 
reached Bruchsal, the point of junction between the 
railways of Wiirtemberg and Baden, where the Em- 
peror found General Baur, Rang William’s envoy, 
awaiting him. 


226 



EOYAL VISITOES 


At Stuttgart the King and Princes of the royal 
family greeted the Emperor at the station and con- 
ducted him to the palace where Alexander II, who 
had arrived, without the Empress, the day before, 
and who was staying with his brother-in-law, the 
Prince Eoyal, at two kilometers from the town, 
came to pay him a visit. Having dined with the 
King and Queen, the Emperor went to spend the 
rest of the evening with the Prince Eoyal, where he 
met the Czar again. The gi'and avenue leading to 
the villa was brilliantly lighted. All the ministers, 
the whole diplomatic corps and the high Court offi- 
cials were with the Prince Eoyal to pay their re- 
spects to the ruler of France. 

The Czar had with him Prince Gortchakoff, Min- 
ister of Foreign Affairs, and the Emperor was ac- 
companied by Count Walewski, Minister of Foreign 
Affairs, Comte de Eayneval, then ambassador to 
St. Petersburg, Prince Joachin Murat, and Gen- 
erals Fleury and de Failly. At eleven o’clock the 
Emperor returned to Stuttgart with the Kin g and 
Queen, while the Czar remained with his brother-in- 
law. This coming and going well illustrates the 
activity of the crowned heads of those days, when 
parliaments were secondary. 

On the morning of the following day, Napoleon 
III paid a less formal visit to the Emperor Alex- 
ander II. At eleven o’clock the King of Wurtem- 
berg came to fetch him and took him round the 
royal stables, where he kept at his own expense 
three hundred thoroughbreds. During this visit to 
the stables, Napoleon confined his conversation to 
sporting matters, and the King afterwards re- 
marked that “if the Empei'or of the French is as 

227 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


strong in polities as lie is in horses, Europe will be 
surprised one of these days.” Indeed, such was the 
case, for Napoleon’s power in the international re- 
lations of Europe went on growing firmer and 
bolder until the Tuileries became the very center 
the Old World’s diplomacy. • 

During the day, after conferring with Count 
Walewski, the Emperor paid a visit to the Queen 
and remained a long while with Queen Sophie of the 
Netherlands. The latter was a firm partisan of the 
close alliance with England and determined to do 
all in her power, while not striving to prevent Napo- 
leon from entering into friendly relations with the 
Czar, not to let him sacrifice what she called “the 
reality of the English alliance for the semblance of 
a Russian agreement.” 

How often had the Empress spoken of this with 
the Emperor. Napoleon III had certainly no desire 
to abandon the prey for its shadow; but it is clear 
that from the very first meeting with the Czar, he 
felt strangely attracted by the Russian emperor. 
He was eager to make him his political friend and 
wished to gain the Czar’s acquiescence in his own 
plans in view of the possibility of difficulties arising 
between Austria and Italy. 

It has often been asked, especially at the time of 
the recent alliance of Prance with Russia, whether 
it would not have been opportune simply to “over- 
look” the English alliance, whose principal fruit 
had been a war chiefly beneficial to England, and to 
unite closely with Russia. To do so would have been 
going to work very rapidly, trampling willfully on 
promises made and putting oneself in a bad position 
altogether. If the Empress had been present on this 

228 



EOYAL VISITOES 


occasion, she would undoubtedly have urged the Em- 
peror to remain faithful to his first alliance. Eu- 
genie was really fond of Queen Victoria, whose af- 
fectionate interest had been so precious to her at the 
beginning of her career as a sovereign. Perhaps, 
also, she then nourished a little feeling of bitterness 
against Eussia. When that Power sought to draw 
into closer union with France, was it not in reality 
for the purpose of obtaining the suppression, in the 
treaty of Paris, of an article which caused Eussia 
some embarrassment, the one relating to the pro- 
hibition of fleets in the Black Sea? Had France 
given way on that chief point, the result would with- 
out doubt have been a very close alliance with Eus- 
sia, but it would have entailed also a rupture with 
England who would never have consented — the 
question of the Bosphorus being all important for 
her — to ratify such an arrangement. 

These and many other considerations, which can 
only be understood by watching the course of after 
events, were the object of many discussions not 
only between the sovereigns and their ministers, 
during this important visit, but between the aides 
de camp admitted to the confidence of one or other 
of the sovereigns, both in the Czar’s apartments, in 
those of Queen Sophie, or in those of Napoleon III. 

Alexander II, much pleased by Napoleon’s cordi- 
ality, determined to send for the Empress, his wife, 
who was in the neighborhood. The pretext given 
for her absence had been that Eugenie had not come 
with her husband. It is difficult to understand the 
real motive for such hesitation, or such calculation. 
If it had been desired that Eugenie should come, 
why had this desire not been made known in proper 

229 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

time? She would have consented, of course. But 
the ground was being tried on either side with great 
care, and neither of the adversaries of yesterday, 
entering now on a period of mutual coquetting, 
wanted to make too many advances, or afford too 
much room for untoward interpretations. Mean- 
while, Austria was evidently anxious concerning all 
these princely doings in which she felt that, without 
being consulted, much interest was taken in her 
future by the erstwhile enemies. 

The Empress of Eussia reached Stuttgart on the 
26th, accompanied by Queen Amelia of Greece, 
daughter of Grand Duke Paul Frederick of Olden- 
berg and wife of King Otho. This was the signal 
for a renewal of social festivities. The Emperor 
immediately went to the Prince Eoyal’s villa in 
order to pay his respects to the Czarina, leaving for 
that purpose the castle of Walhelma, in the valley 
of the Necker, where a most splendid fete had been 
given that evening in his honor. 

Nor was this the end of the social activities. On 
the occasion of the King’s birthday, September 
27th, there was a gala reception, after mass, and 
the Emperor was much cheered on leaving the 
church. The reception was followed by a popular 
festival, a kind of agrarian fete, which had been ar- 
ranged by King William, and the evening ended by 
a grand dinner and fireworks display. 

In the midst of all these parties, politics were not 
lost sight of. In fact, these balls and feastings were 
realty used to conceal the more serious business 
which was being transacted late in the night and in 
the quiet morning hours. The Emperor was a hard 
worker, whether the work came in the form of 

230 



ROYAL VISITORS 


waltzing and conversing in a ball-room, or in the 
form of complicated political discussion in the cab- 
inet. During this important visit, his time was 
equally divided between these two occupations. 

On this day, the 27th, the Czar and Emperor 
brSakfasted with the Prince Royal, but privately, 
without the King, the Court, or any of the suite. 
They spoke together long and freely. It was on that 
day — the anniversary of Erfurt, when Napoleon 
and Alexander met in 1808 and offered peace to 
England — that the chief lines of the friendly agree- 
ment which the chancellors of their respective coun- 
tries had studied and drafted, were decided upon. 
The sovereigns parted the best of friends. The first 
steps had been slow and had consisted in ordinary 
manifestations of courtesy. Attracted though they 
certainly were, one to the other, the two Emperors 
were not quick in making friends. 

The result of these conversations and meetings at 
Stuttgart was a friendly agreement between the 
two sovereigns not to take any important step, 
without first consulting together, either in regard to 
the Eastern question or Italy if some day or another 
a difference should arise between France and Aus- 
tria. In such a case, Russia promised her sympa- 
thetic neutrality and agreed, but without binding 
herself formally, to concentrate one hundred and 
fifty thousand men on the frontiers of Galicia 
should the two above-mentioned powers really come 
to open hostilities. Was the question of a mutual 
alliance settled? Perhaps not; but at any rate it 
was broached. 

The sovereigns now exchanged farewells, the 
Czar leaving the same day, while the Emperor 

231 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


started on the morrow. The Emperor attenuated the 
effects of the visit by meeting at Weimar, two days 
later, the Emperor of Austria. But it was noticed 
that, in spite of all outward appearances of cordi- 
ality, the two sovereigns seemed somewhat embar- 
rassed. ® 

France was destined to reap much real advantage 
from this Stuttgart interview, when the Syrian 
troubles broke out, in 1860, and the French and 
English governments were forced to an armed in- 
tervention in order to check at Damascus the mas- 
sacre of Christians by Mohomedans. Had it not 
been for the unfortunate events in Poland, when 
Prance considered it her duty to intervene in 1863, 
which naturally displeased Russia, who can say 
whether the alliance would not have become strong 
and lasting? But however this may be, this early 
effort of Napoleon III to bring Prance and Russia 
together was based on wise calculations and always 
had the Empress’ warm support, for who could not 
see that, with England and Russia friends of the 
Tuileries, the Second Empire stood in an exceed- 
ingly strong position? 



CHAPTER X 


SOME OEFICIALf JOtTBNEYS 

The year 1858 was a rather stormy period in the 
history of the Second Empire. Though the coun- 
try was not disturbed by war during that twelve- 
month, it was a year that lay between two wars — 
that with Russia, from the effects of which France 
had only just recovered, and that with Austria, for 
the unity of Italy, which was about to begin. It was 
during these intervals of comparative oahn that the 
Emperor used to seize the occasion to strengthen 
himself both at home and abroad. “I always think 
of your excellent English adage,” he casually re- 
marked one evening to the British ambassador dur- 
ing a diplomatic reception at the Tuileries at this 
epoch, “ ‘make hay when the sun shines.’ I should 
prefer to make it all the time. But the sun will not 
always shine.” Knowing that his influence abroad 
was based on his popularity at home, he felt that 
good domestic polities was the basis of good foreign 
policies. So he always liked to combine them. Thus, 
when the Emperor was to have a formal meeting 
with a sovereign, he generally arranged the event 
so that he, sometimes with the Empress, visited 
some of the French provinces, either before or after 
the royal interview. If he thought that the aims he 
had in mind would be best promoted by coming to 
the foreign crowned head fresh from the applause 

' 233 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

of the French populace, then the Emperor wonld go 
to the provinces first. Bnt if, on the other hand, it 
appeared to him wiser to see the ruler first, then his 
own subjects were received afterwards. The official 
visits of the summer of 1858 will illustrate this cus- 
tom, and are consequently given here in some detail. 

Marshal Pelissier, Duke of Malakoffi, French am- 
bassador at London, had been informed as early as 
June 10, 1858, of the intended visit of the Emperor 
and the Empress to Cherbourg, on August 4th, and 
it was then arranged that they would be joined, on 
the 5th, by the Queen of England and the Prince 
Consort. This meeting was felt to he full of signifi- 
cance, coming as it did so shortly after the Orsini 
affair and the Colonels’ prote^s, concerning that 
sad event. It will be remembered that French pub- 
lic opinion and military circles were severe on Eng- 
land, which was undeseivedly held responsible for 
these attempts at political murder. The Duke of 
Malakoff had shown great cleverness in obtaining 
from the Queen such a prompt acceptance of the 
invitation tendered by the Emperor; and his sov- 
ereigns thanked him by letter and by word of mouth 
for his success. 

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert left Osborne on 
August 4th, at mid-day, on the royal yacht, Victoria 
and Albert. An imposing royal squadron had left 
the port some hours earKer and was to surround the 
yacht on its arrival off the harbor of Cherbourg. 
At five o’clock on the same day the Emperor and 
the Empress reached Cherbourg. The principal offi- 
cials of the town were presented by the mayor, and 
the bishop, surrounded by his clergy, chanted a Te 
Deum. A great number of„the inhabitants of the 

234 



SOME OFFICIAL JOURNEYS 

town enthusiastically greeted the royal visitors and 
followed us into the city. “I see that all will go 
well,” remarked the Emperor to the Empress, as 
they were driving through the streets j “when the 
municipality, the church, and the people unite in 
acciaiming us, I always feel that success is to fol- 
low us all along the line.” 

The Queen’s arrival was announced about seven 
o’clock. Shortly afterwards the Emperor and the 
Empress went out to meet her in a white canoe with 
a velvet awning, on which was embroidered a golden 
eagle. Prince Albert awaited them at the foot of the 
yacht’s staircase, at the side of the vessel, the 
Queen being at the top. The Emperor mounted the 
steps first, followed by the Empress, “who was 
wearing a white and mauve silk dress, with a hat 
trimmed with black and white lace,” reports one of 
the chroniclers of the time. The Queen kissed both 
of them. “I do not say much, but I feel much,” she 
said very warmly, as she embraced Eugenie. 
Marshal Pelissier was on the Queen’s yacht. “The 
gallant general knows what we all think of Your 
Majesties,” remarked Victoria as the ambassador 
advanced. “These ladies and gentlemen share our 
affection for Your Majesties,” the Empress quickly 
responded, on presenting the suite. A first inter- 
view then took place between the Emperor and 
Queen, the conversation turning immediately to 
political topics. “I cannot tell Your Majesty,” be- 
gan the Emperor, “how we all regret those hasty 
Colonels’ speeches, how we deplore the clouds 
which have arisen for a nqpment, between the two 
great nations, but which at length are happily clear- 
ing away.” At a later date the Emperor said to th? 

835 



MBMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Empress: “It was evident that the Queen was 
favorably inclined towards France; Prince Albert, 
however, seemed openly hostile; this it was easy 
to gather by reading between the lines of all he 
said.” The same fact, indeed, is openly stated in 
the Queen’s Diary and in Sir Theodore Margin’s 
book. 

On the Thursday, at noon, the Queen and Prince 
Albert returned the Emperor’s visit, driving to the 
marine prefecture for that purpose. The Emperor 
has written in a private note : ‘ ‘ The conversation of 
the preceding day was once more resumed at the 
luncheon, which was somewhat formal. To the 
Queen’s questions the Empress replied by a de- 
tailed relation of Orsini’s treacherous attempt on 
my life, dwelling specially on the harm done on 
that occasion by the press on both sides of the 
Channel. "When will the newspapers leave foreign 
affairs to the diplomatists?” 

One of the members of Eugenie’s suite on that 
occasion gives this unedited account of some of the 
events of the day: “The reception after luncheon 
was attended by all the ministers who had come 
on the journey, as well as the members of the mili- 
tary and civil households on duty. Count Walewski, 
Countess Walewska, and a very handsome Spanish 
lady. Mile. Sophie Valera de la Paniega, who is a 
cousin of the Empress. The Duke of Malakofif 
found this lady charming and paid her marked 
attention. At the end of a few weeks, during which 
time he sent verses and pretty notes to her, the gal- 
lant officer asked for her hand and some weeks later 
she became Duchess of Malakoffi ! In the evening, a 
state banquet was held on board the Bretagne. The 

236 



SOME OFFICIAL JOURNEYS 

Queen, who was very gracious to everybody, was 
seated between the Emperor and the Duke of Cam- 
bridge, while Prince Albert was between the Em- 
press and Comtesse de la Bedoyere. An excellent 
band played during the dinner. At the end of the 
repast, the Emperor rose to propose a toast to the 
Queen and Eoyal Family. I carefully noted what 
be said: ‘I am happy,’ be began with considerable 
feeling, ‘to bear testimony to our friendly sympa- 
thy for England and her rulers; to-day’s events 
speak for themselves and prove that hostile pas- 
sions, aided by some unfortunate incidents, have 
been unable to weaken the friendship existing be- 
tween the two nations, or modify the mutual desire 
to remain at peace. It is my firm belief that if any 
attempt were made to awaken ill-feeling and the 
hatred of by-gone days, such efforts would prove 
unavailing and sink into nothingness in the pres- 
ence of the public good-sense, as the waves are 
thrown back by the jetty which now protects the 
squadrons of two empires from the fury of the 
sea.’ The Emperor’s words, which were given in 
excellent style, produced a good impression, as is 
usually the case when he speaks. 

“Prince Albert rose in his turn and thanked the 
Emperor for his friendly words. He then spoke of 
the increasing goodwill between the two nations. 
‘That friendship,’ said the Prince, in closing, ‘is the 
foundation of their mutual prosperity, and Heav- 
en’s blessing will not fail them. The Queen pro- 
poses the health of the Emperor and Empress.’ 
Victoria led in the applause which gi-eeted the 
Prince as he sat down. Prince Albert appeared 
much moved and was evidently in a hurry to finish 

237 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

his remarks. The Queen was not less moved. The 
Emperor also showed considerable emotion, which 
was plainly shared by the Empress. It was an 
anxious moment, and the Empress appreciated how 
embarrassed the Prince Consort was. The Queen 
admitted that her throat was so contracted that she 
could scarcely swallow her coffee. But the ice was 
broken and the political results seemed to promise 
good things. 

“There was a grand illumination of the boats in 
the harbor ; it was a fairylike and long-to-be- 
remembered sight. The sovereigns of France and 
their guests watched the fire-works from the upper 
deck of the Bretagne. This was followed by part 
songs rendered from a boat by the Saint Cecil Glee 
Club of Cherbourg, while the band played on board 
the Bretagne. Then, in the midst of hearty cheers, 
and passing through the illuminated vessels, the 
Queen and Prince Consort returned to their yacht. 
The Emperor and Empress were very proud of the 
fine way in which the whole ceremony had been 
conducted by those who had it in charge. And well 
they may be, for both the Prince and Victoria pro- 
nounced it ‘perfect,’ several times. 

“The following morning the Emperor and Em- 
press went to the yacht to bid farewell to their royal 
guests. The leave-takings were most cordial. The 
Queen had fully comprehended the sincerity of the 
welcome extended to her by the French sovereigns. 
‘The bonds between us are tightened as never be- 
fore,’ she said. ‘The cloud created by the Colonels 
has evidently cleared away,’ replied the Emperor. 
But the shadow caused by the Plombieres interview 
between Cavour and the Emperor still remained.” 

238 



SOME OFFICIAL JOUENEYS 


Prince Albert, however, continued to feel a cer- 
tain degree of apprehension. A few days later he 
■wrote to the Duchess of Kent : ‘ ‘ The Emperor was 
absent-minded and sad. The Empre,ss appeared 
unwell. The preparations of the French navy are 
enpormous ; ours are pitiful. Our ministers make fine 
speeches, but do not act; my blood boils when I 
think of it. There is restlessness and embarrass- 
ment, An unknown and darkened horizon — such is 
the entente cordiale. Much anxiety is felt in Eng- 
land concerning the Emperor’s plans,” 

A long time afterwards the Emperor said in a 
private conversation of which this note was made 
immediately afterwards: “If the Prince Consort 
had entered into the Franco-English good under- 
standing with the same frankness and genuineness 
that Queen Victoria did, the bonds between the two 
countries would have been stronger. I do not refer 
to the official bonds between the two courts and the 
two cabinets. They were always strong. But there 
was ever a certain hesitancy on the part of the two 
peoples to follow honestly the lead set by the two 
governments. The minds of the common people on 
both sides of the Channel remained almost un- 
changed. Waterloo and Napoleon, the wars and the 
victories on land and sea, the polemics of the press 
— all these things were still remembered and the 
lower classes did not seem disposed to forget them. 
Though the more educated strata and the nobility 
in both countries were broader minded in this 
respect, still the 'era of good feeling’ cannot be said 
to have dawned on Franca and England in the 
fifties.” 

There were other reasons for the journey to 

239 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Cherbourg besides the much desired reconciliation 
with England. On August 7th the Emperor was to 
inaugurate the new dock, which had been con- 
structed in the arsenal of that town, and on Sunday, 
the 8th, he was also to unveil the statue of Napoleon 
I. Anything connected with his imele was, "^of 
course, always near the heart of Napoleon III. 
“This event alone,” he said to the Empress, as 
he was leaving Paris, “would have decided me to 
go to Cherbourg; in honoring the Great Emperor, 
we are putting a new stone in the foundation of the 
Second Empire.” 

The acting private secretary to the Emperor has 
■written out these notes on this part of the journey; 
“An enormous crowd had rushed to Cherbourg for 
these ceremonies and the weather was magnificent 
— ‘just what I had hoped for,’ remarked the Em- 
press. After their farewell to the Queen, the Em- 
peror and Empress lunched on the Bretagne, and 
then visited successively the ships of the squadron 
which were riding at anchor in the harbor, all 
beautifully decked out "with innumerable flags. The 
Emperor distributed medals and decorations to the 
officers and sailors who were presented to him by 
Admiral Hamelin. ‘I trust that greater honors 
await you in the future,’ he said to each recipient, 
gi'ving special attention to the sailors. ‘The humble 
always have a claim on us for particular attention,’ 
he said privately that evening. 

“A state dinner at the maritime prefecture was 
one of the chief events of the visit. The Emperor 
was in good spirits and conversed freely with all 
those near him, saying much about Pranco-English 
relations. ‘It is the duty of every Frenchman who 

240 



SOME OFFICIAL JOURNEYS 

loves his native land to cultivate a good understand- 
ing with Great Britain. There are in favor of this 
thesis strong geographical, political and commer- 
cial reasons.’ Such were some of his words. 

“The inauguration of the new dock constructed 
in fhe military port was a grand ceremony. The 
Emperor and Empress were present in g7'3at pomp, 
passing under a triumphal arch erected exclusively 
of objects taken from the naval store-houses. They 
afterwards visited in detail all the v ork-shops, 
store-rooms, tiheds and the armory, which con- 
tained more than fifty thousand weapons artistical- 
ly arranged so as to represent archways, palm- 
trees, chandeliers, and various geometrical figures. 
‘You marine officers seem to be veritable landscape- 
gardeners,’ remarked the Emperor with a smile. 

“At high tide, at six in the evening, the Emperor 
gave the order to out the last cables which h„ld to 
the docks the Ville de Nantes, a man-of war of 
ninety cannons and nine thousand horse-p ywer, and 
in the presence of over one hundred thcasand spec- 
tators, who loudly acclaimed the sovereign, the 
magnificent vessel cut its first path through the 
water. ‘Of course, the main military strength of a 
nation must be its army,’ remarke-. the Emperor to 
the commanding admiral, wffio T.as standing near 
by, ‘but I have always recognized the fact that the 
navy is a most valuable support to fie other arm of 
the service. It has always seemed to me that the 
great Napoleon gave too little attention to the navy. 
But he was so much absorbed in the army, that he 
had but little time to think of his sailors and their 
ships.’ 

“The next morning, after mass, it being Sunday, 

241 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

tli6 Emperor and Empress went to the Place Na- 
poleon, where the equestrian statue of the great 
Emperor was to be unveiled by his nephew. The 
Emperor responded to the mayor’s patriotic re- 
marks by an admirable speech. I noted down these 
phrases : ‘Let us first of all render homage to «the 
memory of Napoleon, who was inspired to create 
the gigantic works now being terminated. While 
rendering full justice to the Emperor, we should not 
forget the persevering efforts of the governments 
which preceded and which followed him. The first 
thought of the creation of the port of Cherbourg 
came, as you know, from him who created all our 
military ports and strongholds — Louis XIV, sec- 
onded by the genius of Vauban; but it should not be 
forgotten that Louis XVI actively carried on the 
work which had been begun. The head of my family 
gave a fresh impulse to these labors, and since his 
time every government has considered it a duty to 
follow in his steps.’ ” 

These words uttered by the Emperor in praise of 
the French kings made a most happy impression. 
As has been before remarked, Napoleon III rarely 
failed to seize such occasions for paying deserved 
homage to the old monarchy. It well exemplifies the 
lofty generosity of his character. It may be noted 
that his example in this connection has not been 
generally followed by the governments that suc- 
ceeded his. The Republic is not prone to admire 
anything which was done before its time. 

The person who has already been quoted con- 
tinues Ms account in these words: “Towards the 
close of Ms speech the Emperor grew very pacific. 
He was much cheered when he said: ‘We, as a 

242 



SOME OFFICIAL JOUENEYS 


nation, should feel no anxiety for the future, on a 
day when we inaugurate simultaneously the statue 
of the Great Captain and announce to the world the 
completion of a grand military port. The more 
powerful a nation, the greater the respect which it 
inspires. A government resting on the free will of 
the masses is a slave to no party. It goes to war 
only when obliged to do so in order to defend its 
national honor or the greater interests of peo- 
ples.’ ” At a later period, speaking of this journey 
and especially of the closing part of this speech, Na- 
poleon III said one day: “That sentence, which 
passed unperceived at first, was in reality very im- 
portant. It opened the door to the Italian ques- 
tion.” 

After these formal inaugurations and the visit of 
the Queen of England, the Emperor and the Em- 
press made a triumphal trip through Brittany. The 
journey had a special purpose. They wished to con- 
quer the hearts of the very Catholic and royalist 
inhabitants of this part of France. The visit was 
considered very opportune and, as will he seen, met 
with much success. Eugenie has always held in 
warm remembrance this trip through Breton terri- 
tory where she was received most sincerely and 
heartily: “Well, we have received much homage 
since we came to the throne,” the Emperor said, 
“but the honesty of this reception has .never been 
equaled. Such applause is balm to a ruler’s sorely 
tried soul.” 

Further citations are made from the manuscript 
notes which have already been drawn from: “The 
sovereigns sailed from Cherbourg to Brest on board 
the Bretagne. The inhabitants of the latter city 

243 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

were grouped on the little hills from which they 
could view the sea, and the number was increased 
by crowds who came in from the neighboring vil- 
lages and hamlets. In the church of Saint Louis, the 
Bishop of Quimper said to the Empress: ‘Your be- 
loved presence reminds our people of their dear 
Duchess whose royal spouse was also the father of 
the people. A respected and eloquent voice has told 
all France that you are Catholic and pious. Your 
good deeds repeat this each day. ’ The Empress was 
much touched by these words. 

“The sovereigns visited the hospital and town 
and were present at a ball offered by the munici- 
pality. They sat on a throne under a red dais, when 
fifty Breton peasant couples, announced by the 
hautboy and biniou, a sort of Breton bagpipe, and 
wearing the ancient costume of Finistere, filed past 
the throne, preceded by flowing banners. Then they 
went through the quaint dancejs of the country, 
much to the amusement of the Imperial party. 

“The following day, the Emperor and Empress 
visited the frigate Thetis, the midshipmen’s school; 
and the Borda, the marine cadet-school. ‘Boys,’ 
said the Emperor, addressing these two bodies who 
had been brought together for the occasion, ‘never 
forget that true patriotism thinks of the country 
first and the rulers afterwards.’ In the evening 
there were brilliant illuminations and festivities, 
and the Emperor and Empress said they would long 
remember the enthusiasm of these interesting 
youths. 

“On August 12th the Imperial cavalcade left 
Brest. The drive from Brest to Quimper was a long 
and ceaseless ovation. All along the road the Im- 

244 



SOME OFFICIAL JOURNEYS 

perial carriage was escorted by peasants, wbo, 
mounted on their horses and bearing tricolor flags, 
relayed each other from one village to another. 
From Landernau to Quimper, no less than twelve 
triumphal arches were passed under. Around each 
of 4hese were grouped the inhabitants of the neigh- 
borhood, headed by priests in sacredotal vest- 
ments, mayors, municipal councilors, and men 
wearing the medal of Saint Helena. At Quimper 
the reception was particularly enthusiastic. A 
country ball was offered that evening, and there 
was a grand display of fireworks, though, unfor- 
tunately, many persons were wounded by the 
sparks. Dr. Jobert de Lamballe, the Emperor’s 
surgeon, gave his best attention to the patients, 
and the Marquis de Cadore, of the military house- 
hold of the Empress, who was much moved by the 
accident, was sent by her to find out all about the 
wounded. But the next morning, it was learnt that 
the wounds were without gravity, whereupon the 
Emperor and Empress immediately sent gifts to the 
wounded. A little girl, who had been slightly hurt, 
received a gift of two hundred francs, which she 
handed to her mother, keeping only twenty francs 
for herself. She had the coin pierced and wore it 
round her neck, in remembrance of the ‘good Em- 
press,’ as she said. The Empress heard later of this 
fact and kept this child in view for several years, 
helping her in many ways.” 

The Empress wrote at the time as follows in a 
letter to a friend: “The weather was perfect, and 
the short trip by sea from Lorient to Port Louis 
was most pleasant. The stretch of water between 
the two towns was dotted with brightly decorated 

245 



MEMOIKS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

ships, yachts, and sailing boats conveying holiday- 
makers to Port Louis. In the harbor were several 
of the fleet’s ships. The cannon of Saint Michel’s 
fort saluted our arrival, while picturesque fishing 
boats, brought into line on either side of our pass- 
age, and stretching from the landing stage far out 
to sea, formed a novel and quaint double hedge- 
way. The officials of the town and the cadets in 
uniform came to greet the Emperor; the mayor 
made the usual speech welcoming us to his town, 
and the young girls of the place offered me flowers 
according to time-honored custom. Then, amidst 
the cheering of the spectators, the Emperor gave 
me his arm and we passed through the gates of the 
town, towards the fortress built by Vauban. The 
view from the forts which defend the citadel is 
marvelous. On one side lie the harbor and the 
houses of the town clear-cut agaiast the horizon ; in 
front is the steeple of Ploermeur, its thatched huts 
dotted on the green valley; beyond can be seen 
only a vast stretch of blue sea, sparkling and rest- 
■ less, with, far in the distance, the vague outline of 
Grois island. I am told that each year an imposing 
ceremony takes place at the entrance to this little 
bay, when the fishing boats of Port Louis, Lorient, 
Ploermeur and Grois island gather together, while 
the clergy, chanting the sailor’s hymn of ‘ Ave Maris 
Stella’ come to the spot in a small chapel-like boat, 
and, in the name of the God who gives all things, 
bless the sea so that it will yield fish to the poor 
fisherman who henceforth will oast his net with 
greater confidence into the deep waves. 

“The Emperor went into one of the bastions to 
examine the caimon and, after several trials of 

246 



SOME OFFICIAL JOUENEYS 

them, led me to the rooms which he had occupied 
for a short while after the Strasbourg affair, when 
he was on the point of sailing for America. A touch- 
ing incident occurred on that occasion. The Em- 
peror was greeted by Mme. Porreaux, an old 
woman, widow of one of the artillerymen. She it 
was who had taken care of Prince Louis during his 
stay at Port Louis. ‘I recognise you perfectly well,’ 
said the old lady; ‘you have not changed at all; you 
look just as good as you used to ; and you were a 
very kind young man.’ She then went into partic- 
ulars, showing the Emperor the furniture which he 
had used at Port Louis, the old desk on which he 
used to write, the china howl in which his tea was 
served, the statue of the Virgin of Marseilles and 
the portrait of Henri IV which had embellished his 
mantelpiece, together with some coffee cups which 
still stood there. ‘Do you remember,’ she said, ‘that 
one day, when I wont to that cupboard to fetch some 
sheets at the top, you gave me your hand to help me 
down?’ ‘And I give it you once more to-day, my 
good woman,’ replied the Emperor, shaking hands 
with her cordially. I was much interested in all 
this scene and I encouraged Mme. Porreaux to 
speak of her family and circumstances. She told 
me she stiU had two children left, one of whom had 
been sergeant major at the siege of Constantine and 
was at present in very straitened circumstances, 
owing to the heavy expenses caused by a large 
family. The Emperor hastened to ensure his future 
well-being, and withdrew amidst a concert of thanks 
and blessings from aU the members of the old 
woman’s family.” 

The private secretary’s notes continue; “On 

247 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

their return to Lorient, the Emperor and Empress 
■went to the arsenal and visited several vessels 
which were being constructed or repaired. The 
workmen greeted the sovereigns enthusiastically, 
much to their e-vident satisfaction, for if there is 
anything that goes right to the heart of Napolfton 
III, it is approval from the lower classes. I have 
often noticed this trait in His Majesty’s character. 
At one moment, the cheers were so great that the 
director of naval constructions was unable to hear 
the Emperor’s questions concerning the ships then 
being built. He was, in fact, on the point of com- 
manding silence, when the Emperor intervened and 
exclaimed: ‘Don’t stop them; I like to hear them, 
and would much rather repeat all my questions than 
have them cease cheering.’ 

“A few hours later, the Calvados was launched 
from the Caudon docks. Before leaving the docks, 
the Emperor and Empress inspected with great in- 
terest the panoplies of instruments and tools which 
decorated their tent. Stopping in front of a trophy 
put up by the carpenters and decorated wilih a 
beautiful bunch of flowers, the Empress detached a 
blossom and showing it to the workmen who were 
surrounding her said: ‘I shall keep it as a souvenir.’ 
The words and act were most effective, for the 
workmen broke forth into deafening cheers and 
hurrahs. 

“August 15th, which is the Feast of the Assump- 
tion and the anniversary of the Emperor’s birth, 
was celebrated at the much venerated feet of Saint 
Anne, patron saint of Brittany; and almost endless 
ovations took place at Hennebont. On one of the 
numerous triumphal arches were inscribed the 

248 



SOME OFFICIAL JOUENEYS 


words which, give some idea of the warmth of the 
reception: ‘To His Majesty the Emperor, the 
Breton’s gratitude; to Her Majesty the Empress, 
personified goodness, God bless the Prince Im- 
perial. All Bretons love him.’ At Saint Gillee, 
Bnanderion, and Kermingny, everywhere, in fact, 
along the whole route, were monuments of verdure 
and fiowers. ."Wild enthusiasm reigned everywhere, 
right up to Auray itself.” 

Another longer letter written by the Empress 
contains these passages: “Auray is a spot rich in 
memories. A short distance away, the Druids’ re- 
ligion has left its traces in the gigantic stones of 
Carnac, where the fields are strewn with menhirs 
and dolmens, in the grottoes of Plouamel and of 
Loemariaquer. At the gates of the town, Jean de 
Montfort and Charles de Blois came to blows in 
1364 at a decisive action in which Du Guesclin took 
part. Charles de Blois lost his life and Montfort 
remained Duke of Brittany. In a meadow near the 
town, bearing the lugubrious name of ‘Martyrs’ 
Field,’ the republican soldiers in 1795 shot the un- 
fortunate prisoners of Quiberon, victims to their 
monarchial opinions. A monument has been erected 
there with this inscription on it: ‘Hie ceciderunt.’ 
On the martyrs’ tomb I read: ‘Gallia moerens 
posuit.’ Everywhere in this land, racked and de- 
faced by intestine wars, even stones and bushes, 
witnesses of such glorious exploits and sad carnage, 
speak to the travelers’ imagination. These souve- 
nirs may be awakened without fear now, for we 
were greeted everywhere in Brittany with joy un- 
alloyed and touching in its sincerity. 

“The tovm is built on a hOl. The Imperial 

249 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

cortege descended a sinuous street and thus reached 
the port. On the Blavet bridge, the fishermen had 
arranged a kind of awning with their nets. Further 
on, another monument had been erected by the town 
wor k men. From Auray to Saint Anne the road was 
lined with pilgrims who never stopped cheering ms. 
We were both very much touched by such greet- 
ings from these Bretons, who, in spite of their 
staunchness as Bretons, were careful to let us see 
that they were also Frenchmen. They are all wear- 
ing the tricolour cockade, and the women have bows 
made of ribands of the national colours. The 
French flag is flying everywhere. At the doors of 
their mud huts, covered with thatch, are hung the 
finest of their ancestral clothes, crosses, rustic 
images, every treasure they possess ; and all this to 
do honor to their sovereigns. It aU touches me 
deeply. On one of these cottages near Saint Anne 
might be read this inscription, roughly hewn, but 
full of high thoughts: ‘They spend one instant at 
Saint Anne, but will live in our hearts for ever.’ 
Further on, we passed beneath a triumphal arch on 
which were written the following words, reminders 
of glorious days for France: ‘Rome — Crimea,’ and 
a sentence taken from the Book of Saints: ‘Fiat 
manustua super virum dexterae tuse.’ 

“I was much interested in the history of the pil- 
grimage of Saint Anne and I asked to have the 
story told me in detail. Here it is. In former times 
an oratory, dedicated to the mother of the Virgin 
Mary, had existed at Plumeret in a field called U 
Bocenno. It had never been possible to plow the 
spot where the oratory formerly stood, the oxen 
refusing to step on the ground, and the plow- 

250 



SOME OFFICIAL JOURNEYS 


stares -would break if tbe farmers attempted to 
force them beyond a certain limit. In the country 
district this fact was proverbial, and everywhere it 
was said that ‘One must be careful of the Chapel 
when plo-wing at Bocenno.’ Near the field was a 
small village called Ker-Anna in remembrance of 
the oratory. At the beginning of the 17th century 
a farmer living in the village, a simple and God- 
fearing man named Nicolazic, had a strange expe- 
rience. Legend has it that Providence, ever more 
ready to reveal her mysteries to the humble than to 
the proud, warned Nicolazic by reiterated visions 
of Saint Anne, that the woman chosen in this world 
to be the grandmother of Christ, was to be specially 
venerated in that neighborhood which had for- 
merly been the site of her generosity. Nicolazic was 
laughed at, repulsed by the clergy, treated as a mad 
man, but his faith could not be shaken. 

“Wonderful things occurred, it is said, which 
confirmed the Christian’s words. An antique statue 
was found in the field by two peasants who were 
led thither by a torch which fell from heaven. At 
first it was stood up only on the grass ; but after an 
investigation conducted by Sebastien de Eosmadec, 
Bishop of Vannes, and Dom Jacques Bullion, 
Bachelor at the Sorbonne, it was decided to erect an 
altar for it, and on July 4, 1628, the first stone was 
laid, in the presence of thirty thousand pilgrims. 
Nicolazic died of joy, after ha-ving prayed for some 
years at the foot of the statue of St. Anne, which 
was eventually visited on every anniversary by 
thousands of the faithful. It is said that a peaceful 
moment preceded the good man’s last breath. ‘Here 
is the Blessed Virgin,’ said he, ‘and Saint Anne, 

251 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


my good mistress.’ He was buried at the very spot 
where he had found the miraculous statue and there 
his bones rest to this day. 

“Since then the pilgrimages to Saint Anne have 
become famous. The Sovereign Pontiffs have en- 
couraged it, by granting favors and blessing# to 
those who take part in it, while numerous prayers 
have been heard, thanks to the intercession of the 
venerated patron, and Breton piety has made it a 
custom to pray at her shrine in all the more im- 
portant circumstances of life. Anne of Austria 
came here to ask that children might be given to 
her, and Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Henrietta Maria 
of England, Maria Leckzinska, Louis XVI, and 
Marie Antoinette all sent gifts in proof of their 
faith in the power and goodness of this noble saint. 
We could not fail to bear our testimony by our, 
presence to all the wonderful powers possessed by 
so blessed a shrine. 

“Saint Anne’s chapel is situated at the end of a 
vast courtyard surrounded by buildings which 
formed the Carmelite convent and which later be- 
came a Catholic boys’ school. The courtyard is 
entered by a triple portico surmounted by an ex- 
terior altar reached by two large staircases built 
on the model of the stairway at San Giovanni in 
Laterano in Rome. It is called the Scala Sancta. 
Because of the high altar, twenty thousand per- 
sons can be present at mass. The number of ex- 
votoes or tablets on the walls of the chapel is in- 
numerable. A ‘Holy Family’ was promised by the 
Emperor, and I will see that it is given. 

“Great preparations were naturally made to re- 
ceive us here with all due solemnity and splendor. 

252 



SOME OFFICIAL JOURNEYS 


An immense crowd stood around tlie large enclos- 
ure, In the yard itself, thousands of pilgrims were 
gathered, while at the door of the chapel were sta- 
tioned the clergy of the diocese preceded by the 
bishop and surrounded by the pupils of the school 
m&tioned above. All were waiting for our coming. 
Between the chapel and the altar of the Scala 
Sancta was a dais of green velvet dotted with 
golden bees, and all protected by two richly deco- 
rated tents. On the front of the chapel, below the 
statue of Saint Anne, had been placed the Im- 
perial crown and several blue flags. Blue, as you 
blow, is the color of the Prince Imperial and thus 
it seemed that the Imperial family was being placed 
under the protection of the patron saint of Brit- 
tany. 

“Cannon, music, and vociferous cheering greeted 
our arrival at noon. Then the octogenarian bishop 
stepped forward and made a touching speech in 
which he thanked the Emperor for all he had done 
for France, and for the Church. ‘Deigii, sire,’ he 
added, ‘to look with special favor on the prayers 
for you made by an old bishop who has not forgot- 
ten that it is to Napoleon I that his father owed the 
joj of returning to his country and of finding a liv- 
ing here,’ He ended by calling for a blessing from 
heaven ‘on the Prince Imperial and the sovereigns.’ 
His words were so full of feeling that I was really 
much moved. Nor was the Emperor less so when, 
replying to the Bishop, he said, as well as I can 
recall his words: ‘There are days when sovereigns 
must set an example; there are others when they 
must follow the example set by others. That is 
why, in accordance with the ancient custom of the 

253 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


ooTiiitry, I have desired to come here on my anni- 
versary to pray God for that which is the object of 
all my efforts and my hopes — the well-being of the 
nation whom he has sent me to govern. I am happy 
to be welcomed by so venerable a prelate and I rely 
on your prayers to draw down upon me a heavehly 
blessing.’ I thought the Emperor’s little speech was 
well turned. Anyv'ay, it was well delivered and 
very well received, for, in the midst of enthusiastic 
ovations, the Emperor and myself took our place 
beneath the dais and crossed the courtyard in pro- 
cession, followed by the clergy and the members of 
our household. "Wo were then led to the interior 
chapel and recited the litany of Saint Anne, while 
the imposing ‘Domino Salvum fac imperatorem 
nostrum Napoleonem’ was chanted by clergy, choir, 
and people, and repeated by the crowds outside. We 
were then conducted to our thrones with the same 
ceremony. 

“Mass was said on the altar on the Scala Sancta, 
while religious airs, rendered by the infantry band, 
alternated with singing by the pupils of the school. 
Cannons were fired at the elevation of the Host. At 
the end of the mass, a voice was heard invoking 
the protection of Saint Anne on the Emperor, my- 
self and the Prince Imperial. The air chosen was 
a popular one, and the chorus was taken up by thou- 
sands of voices. All hearts were filled with emo- 
tion at the spontaneous and hearty rendering of 
this song by all those present, and no hearts were 
fuller than our own. 

“After the service, sixty thousand medals were 
brought to the Bishop tp be blessed as souvenirs of 
the Emperor’s visit to Samt Anne. The Bishop 

254 



SOME OFFICIAL JOUENEYS 


then intoned the Te Demn, and once again the pro- 
cession went round the courtyard, preceded by a 
magnificent white moire silk banner embroidered 
in gold, the image of Saint Anne being on one 
side and the arms of France on the other. This 
batiner was one of our gifts, the golden niche, in 
which the statue of Saint Anne was borne, being 
another. We afterwards visited the school where 
the pupils recited verses, and bidding good-by to 
the Bishop, the Emperor expressed a fear lest the 
fatigues of that day should injure his health, add- 
ding: ‘The pleasure I have had in seeing you. Mon- 
seigneur, would be much spoilt if you should suffer 
thereby.’ ” 

In another letter written by the Empress, I find 
these passages: “The welcome given to us at Van- 
nes was very cordial and imposing. The following 
morning, after the Emperor had distributed deco- 
rations in the courtyard of the prefecture, we left 
Vannes about ten o’clock in the midst of enthu- 
siastic demonstrations. Outside Vannes were 
crowds of peasants who accompanied us, not mere- 
ly on horseback, but also in carts, into which were 
packed as many spectators as possible. It was 
a strange sight, this long string of horsemen and 
vehicles struggling one with another, stopping up 
the way and each one trying to get ahead of his 
neighbor. Our post-chaise hurried over the road. 
At Mencon, Grandchamp, and other places, were 
masses of flowers and flags. At a distance of some 
twelve miles beyond Vannes, our carriages stopped. 
We were in front of a triumphal arch surmounted 
by the Imperial arms and formed of foliage, flow- 
ers, flags, agricultural implements, while the base 

255 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


■was surrounded by farmers holding oxen harnessed 
to the plow. This was the entrance to the chalet 
erected on Comhoet plain by Princess Baciocehi, 
a cousin of the Emperor, and whose hospitality we 
had accepted for lunch. The peasants had placed 
the follo'wdng inscription over the archway, in Bre- 
ton: ‘Dent mad er Korn er Hoet,’ which may be 
translated, ‘Welcome to Comhoet.’ Children from 
the Moustoirac schools strewed flowers in front of 
us, while two young girls presented us with nose- 
gays. The Princess greeted her guests warmly and 
we embraced her cordially. We then visited the 
whole chalet, which is filled with portraits of vari- 
ous members of the Napoleonic family. Luncheon 
was served in a rustic hall, formed of roughly he'wn 
trees, and carpeted with moss and plants. Besides 
our two suites, there were present, Marshall Vail- 
lant, Minister of War, Marshal Baraguay d’Hil- 
liers, and several personalities of the region. 

“Out on the road and on the surrounding plain 
were crowds of peasants "with long hair and on 
horseback, wearing their picturesque costume, con- 
sisting of wide-brimmed hats, and white clothes em- 
broidered in red and black. Each -village delega- 
tion had a flag of its own and was led by its priest 
and public ofiScials. Some of the peasants, I am 
told, have come more than twenty leagues to see 
the Emperor. The official persons and the veterans 
of Saint Helena and of the Crimea were admitted 
into the park with the young girls’ deputation. An 
enormous crowd was gathered on the heath. No 
sovereign has visited Brittany since Henri IV, I 
am informed, and the enthusiasm and cheering were 

256 



SOME OPFICIAIi JOURNEYS 

positively astounding. Princess Baciocchi had pre- 
pared food of all sorts for all these people. 

‘ ‘ The chalet of Cornhoet had been brought piece- 
meal from Paris and put up in a month and a half. 
It commands the plain and its -mid environment 
is l»oth delightful and imposing. The Princess does 
much good in the neighborhood. She has bought 
much land, imported sheep of the best French and 
Scotch breeds, and has vast portions of the plain 
converted into pasture land and artificial meadows. 
She has even gone in for excavations which have 
led to the discovery of dolmens at Cornhoet simi- 
lar to those of Camac and Locmariaquer. She has 
followed the example set by the Emperor in So- 
logne and in the plains of Gascony, and her coming 
to Brittany has been a blessing to the country. This 
visit to Cornhoet is one of the most curious fea- 
tures of this strange trip, one of the most interest- 
ing indeed which I ever undertook, and which I 
shall remember with deep pleasure for many years 
to come.” 

Here is a final extract from this little collection 
of Eugenie’s letters: “A warm welcome awaited 
us at Pontivy-Napoleonville, where was a curious 
cavalcade of fifteen hundred Breton cavaliers, al- 
most all clothed in white coats with basques and 
wearing huge round hats which they waved as they 
passed in front of the Emperor and me. Their 
wives, who rode on the same horse with their hus- 
bands, were decked out in festive garb, almost all 
wearing richly embroidered red gowns. In the 
crowd of horsemen were, I am told, mayors and 
land-owners all mixed up with the peasants. There 
was the usual reception at the prefecture, with the 

257 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


usual speeclies, and in the evening, illuminations 
and fire-works. The national dances, very lively 
and animated, were given, and all the country steps 
were gone through with, much to the delight of the 
spectators, and especially to me. 

“The journey was continued through the*de- 
partment of C6tes-du-Nord, passing hy Loudeao, 
where a fine arch had been erected, and where the 
reception was extremely hearty. Prom Napoleon- 
ville to Loudeac, we were escorted by three hun- 
dred and fifty riders from the canton of Goarec, 
whose places were taken at Loudeac by a similar 
number of farmers from the canton of Mur, who, in 
their turn, gave way to an escort of young men from 
the canton of Corlay, when we reached Pontgamp. 
At this last-named town, our carriage passed under 
another triumphal archway, while at Plouguenast, 
I remarked a beautiful arbor of moss and flowers. 
I was especially struck by the fine spectacle offered 
by the little town of Moncontour. It still retains 
its old walls which withstood the assaults of so 
many sieges. Its position on the slope of a hill 
between two charming valleys was not only impor- 
tant from a strategic point of view, but is very pic- 
turesque. Crowds gathered on the gothic arch- 
way, on the sides of the hills, and even on the gran- 
ite rocks through which runs a little bubbling 
stream, ‘to cheer and welcome you,’ the village 
priest very neatly remarked as he was presented to 
us.” 

Such is a rather detailed account of one of these 
successful and characteristic official visits, in which 
was happily combined foreign interests and home 
affairs. It was learned later that the Queen and 

258 



SOME OFFICIAL JOUENBYS 


the Prince Consort read with interest in the Paris 
journals the reports of the journey. “All this 
proves that the Empire is firmly planted in the 
hearts of the people,” said an ambassador in the 
presence of the royal family. The Queen bowed 
assent. When the Emperor was told of this, he 
remarked: “Well, this confirms a favorite hobby 
of mine. A monarch is respected abroad in pro- 
portion as he is respected at home. An enthusiastic 
public reception in which the whole population takes 
part is as good as adding a new man-of-war to 
the navy. I have been made fun of sometimes for 
paying so much attention to my popularity among 
the lower classes. But I do not think this is time 
or labor lost; and I am now sure Queen Victoria 
shares my view.” 



OHAPTEE XI 


VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 

In 1860 the Empire was at the height of its fame. 
The visit which the Emperor paid to Baden in the 
summer of this year was a signal proof of this fact. 
He met there several sovereigns and German 
princes — ^the Kings of Prussia, Bavaria, Wiirtem- 
herg, Saxony and Hanover; the Dukes of Nassau 
and of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha ; the Prince of Hohen- 
zoUem, the Grand Duke and the Grand Duchess of 
Baden and his cousin the Grand Duchess Stephanie, 
bom Beauharnais. It was a brilliant gathering. 
Eeferring to this event, several years later, the 
Emperor said one day : “It was an important meet- 
ing. I was then looked upon as the arbiter of Eu- 
rope and the protector of monarchical authority. 
It is true that clouds were gathering on the Italian 
horizon, because of the Roman question, but, as re- 
gards Germany and Russia, not only was all cahn 
but there was a marked exchange of friendly senti- 
ments.” 

It has long been the policy of Prance to be on 
friendly terms with Spain, for in this way her whole 
southwest border is safe in case of a European war. 
Napoleon HI always felt that his great imele had 
made a grave mistake in his aggressive policy in 
the Iberian peninsula and one of the most constant 
efforts of the Second Empire was to improve its 

260 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


relations with Spain. In fact, the initial cause of 
the war of 1870 was fear on the part of France lest 
a German prince be placed on the Spanish throne. 
In the autumn of 1863, an occasion offered for the 
French government to show its friendliness to her 
neighbor, and the occasion was seized. The Im- 
perial family had been spending the summer at Biar- 
ritz, and when the Emperor and the young Prince 
Imperial returned to Paris in October, the Empress 
embarked on the Aigle and landed on the 18th at 
Valencia. One of the ladies in her suite kept a jour- 
nal of this visit, from which, I think, the following 
extracts may he made with propriety. 

“The Empress’s fellow countrymen and country- 
women are evidently delighted to see her again after 
an absence of eleven years. They have cheered her 
enthusiatically all the way from Valencia to Mad- 
rid, which we reached at eleven at night. We were 
met at the station by the King, Don Francisco 
d’Assis, who was surrounded by all the high func- 
tionaries of the court. He and the Empress imme- 
diately entered a state coach drawn by eight horses, 
and the brilliantly lighted royal palace was soon 
reached. The Empress felt considerable emotion 
as she once again entered the splendid residence 
built by Charles HI on the height which had been 
formerly occupied by the Alcazar, and the next day 
she told me that all the time recollections of her 
early youth were running in her head : her first ap- 
pearance at court, where her mother was keeper of 
the Queen’s wardrobe, and her first successes in 
high Spanish society. 

“The palace staircase is magnificent. The steps 
are made of solid blocks of black and white marble 

261 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

and on eacti one stood a magnificent halberdier. On 
the second landing stood Queen Isabella, waiting to 
greet the Empress. She kissed her warmly and con- 
ducted her to the King’s apartments, which had been 
reserved for her, and a few moments later sent her, 
by a nobleman, a case containing a key fashioned in 
gold and silver, and most artistically worked. It 
was the key of the palace. The Empress was much 
touched by this delicate act, which was truly Cas- 
tilian. The next day, the Empress drove about the 
city with the Queen, King and Princess Anna Murat. 
That evening there was a grand performance at the 
Eoyal Theatre. The large auditorium presented a 
fairylike aspect, filled with two thousand guests, the 
ladies sparkling in jewels. The Empress occupied 
the large box opposite the stage, and was seated be- 
tween the King and Queen. She was naturally the 
cynosure of all eyes and was warmly applauded, 
for many of those present had been her guests at 
the Tuileries, at Compiegne or at Fontainebleau, 
and all knew how ardently she was attached to her 
native land and how often she expressed the hope 
that Spain might eventually take rank again among 
the great powers in the European alliance. 

“The Empress is, of course, very careful to let 
it be seen how much she appreciates the warm man- 
ner in which she is everywhere received. She was 
given a fine opportunity to do this when she met 
the whole diplomatic corps, the other evening, at 
the French embassy. The French ambassador, M. 
Adolphe Barrot, brother of Odillon Barrot, the cele- 
brated orator and statesman, and of Ferdinand Bar- 
rot, is particularly well remembered by the Empress, 
for he it was who, when French minister at Brus- 

262 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


sels, helped to defeat the Orsini outrage, by putting 
the police on the track of one of the murderer’s ac- 
complices. A still better chance was afforded the 
Empress of letting all Spain see how touched she 
was, at the splendid ball given in the royal palace 
anfl at another ball offered her by the diplomatic 
corps. The Empress was struck by the magnificence 
of the first function, and especially noticed the su- 
perb candelabra in rock crystal which hung from 
the ceiling painted by Tiepolo, representing the ex- 
altation of the Spanish monarchy. Pointing up to 
this masterpiecfe during the evening’s entertainment, 
the Empress said to the King with great felicity: 
‘The Venetian artist has there expressed what the 
Emperor and I both feel so truly.’ We also greatly 
admired the walls covered with crimson velvet, 
edged with gold, and the Empress’s attention was 
particularly centered on a dozen marble tables, set 
in front of twelve large mirrors, these tables being 
loaded with art objects of the highest value. 

“The Empress left Madrid on October 21st. The 
Queen, preceded by the grandees of Spain and fol- 
lowed by the royal family, went to the apartments 
of the Empress at ten o ’clock in the morning, where 
they found their guest attired for the journey and 
awaiting them. The same coach and eight, the 
horses harnessed in red and white, which had 
brought us from the station, now took us there 
again. But this time, the Queen accompanied us. 
Just as the Empress was getting into the train, the 
Queen handed her a bracelet on which was formed 
in rubies and diamonds the words : Eecuerdo, sou- 
venir.” 

The sovereigns parted after an affectionate fare- 

263 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

•well. Some years laier, they frequently met, for 
Queen Isabella, after her descent from the throne, 
resided in Paris till her death in 1904. The ties be- 
tween her and Eugenie remained unbroken during 
the exile of them both, and the latter never passed 
through Paris on her way south, after the fall of 
the Empire, without paying a visit to the Hotel de 
Castille, in the Avenue Kleber, which has now given 
way to a big modern caravansary. 

On October 10, 1846, Queen Isabella of Spain, then 
but sixteen years old, married her cousin, Don Fran- 
cisco d’Assis, Duke of Cadiz, and on the same day 
the Duo de Montpensier, a younger son of Louis 
Philippe, married the Infanta Louisa, sister of 
Queen Isabella. These unions disturbed the good 
relations between France and England, for the lat- 
ter country saw in them, and especially in that of 
the son of the French king, the possibility of the 
crown of Spain and France belonging to the same 
family. In fact, in 1869, the Duo de Montpensier 
really did aspire to the vacant throne of Spain. So 
one of the aims of Napoleon III was to remove all 
cause of friction between the three sister nations. 
He began the good work with Spain and France. 
Hence the importance of the visit of Don Francisco, 
who arrived at Saint Cloud on August 16, 1864. This 
visit had been planned long beforehand and the Em- 
peror and the Empress had determined that it 
should be magnificently carried out, chiefly for the 
reasons just given. 

Don Francisco, who spent the last years of his 
life almost constantly in Paris, did not at that date 
know much of the French capital, not having re- 
turned there since his childhood, and the Emperor 

264 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 

desired to give Mm, in the course of a few days, an 
adequate idea of modern Paris, from the military, 
artistic, industrial and worldly point of view; to say 
nothing of a glance at its archeological treasures. 
Moreover, it was decided that a grand fete should 
be*offered at Versailles to this descendant of Louis 
XIV, a fete which was to be somewhat similar to 
that which had been organized in 1855 on the occa- 
sion of Queen Victoria’s visit. 

Interviews concerning the arrangement of the pro- 
gram took place several times between M. Drouyn 
de Lhuys, French Foreign Minister, and M. Isturzz, 
then Spanish ambassador, who carried his seventy- 
four years very lightly, and whose proverbial wit 
did not diminish with Ms advancing age. Both the 
Emperor and the Empress always enjoyed Ms con- 
versation, which sparkled with :^e and well-chosen 
humor, and was replete with anecdote, the result of 
his long and varied career. He had been Spanish 
ambassador to England three times in ten years, 
which led him to remark to the American Minister 
to France : “You might think our Foreign Minister 
were a son of General Jackson,” a reference, of 
course, to the custom which President Jackson is 
said to have introduced into American public life 
of changing the office-holders with every new admin- 
istration. 

In one of these meetings between the two diplo- 
mats to arrange for this visit, M. Drouyn de Lhuys 
read to Don Xavier the following very much over- 
crowded program; 

“The first day: presentation at Saint Cloud of 
the different persons of rank; second and tMrd 
days; visits to the monuments of the capital fol- 

265 



MEMOIRS OE THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

lowed by a gala dinner at the Tuileries and a gala 
representation at the Opera; fourth day: review of 
the troops on the Champ de Mars, and f§te at Ver- 
sailles. The fifth day ” 

Here the Spanish ambassador interrupted the 
Minister with a smile, saying: “The fifth day, 'fu- 
neral of the ambassador.” 

Nevertheless, the program was accepted, and on 
the evening of April 16th the Emperor went to the 
temporary station in the park of Saint Cloud, to 
meet Don Francisco. 

During the Prince Consort’s stay there was a 
grand gala performance at the Opera. The Em- 
peror, the Empress and the guest of honor occu- 
pied a large box in the center of the theater instead 
of the box to the left which was used on ordinary oc- 
casions. The center box used for gala nights was 
made by the withdrawal of several partitions, thus 
throwing several boxes into one large one which 
was suitably decorated for the event. The ordi- 
nary Imperial box on the left was occupied on that 
occasion by a brilliant party from the diplomatic 
corps. 

Unfortunately the Empress was saddened that 
evening by a painful occurrence. The charming 
Princess Czartoryska, daughter of Queen Christine 
and the Duke of Rianzares, was then at death’s door. 
The Empress was very fond of the charming young 
woman who had been for several years past the vic- 
tim of a cruel disease. During the day, making the 
most of the few hours of liberty which she might 
hope to enjoy while Don Francisco was receiving 
the members of the Spanish colony at the Embassy, 
Eugenie paid a short visit to her young friend, 

266 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


Weak as she was, the Princess still believed in the 
possibility of recovery, and happy at having the 
Empress near her for an instant, made her promise 
to return again within a few days. Deeply moved, 
she promised to do so, and sorrowfully withdrew. 
A lew days later Eugenie kept the promise hut not 
in the way in which the Princess anticipated; for 
she was never again to see in full life this delicate 
Spanish flower which had been transplanted from 
its sunny climate to the sad though sumptuous pal- 
ace in the He Saint Louis, built by a magistrate in 
the seventeenth century, decorated by Lepautre, Le- 
brun and Lesueur, immortalized by Voltaire, which, 
after many vicissitudes, had become the property of 
the Princess Czartoryska. This palace, by the way, 
is still visited by tourists to Paris. On the very 
morning of the day on which the grand fete at Ver- 
sailles was to take place, the Empress learned that 
Princess Ampara Czartoryska had breathed her last. 
She immediately sent word to her reader. Made- 
moiselle Bouvet, to come and accompany her and 
in a post-chaise they left Saint Cloud, rapidly 
crossed the Bois de Boulogne, and driving the length 
of the quays reached the He Saint Louis. 

The somber hotel was closed to all but the near 
friends. Eugenie hastened to the death-chamber, 
which was hung with red damask, where Princess 
Ampara lay like a sleeping child, her head buried in 
her waving brown hair, no trace of suffering on the 
pretty youthful face which was now stamped with 
the supernatural serenity, the mighty calm of death. 
Weeping, the Empress prayed long in the darkened 
chamber, lighted only by the candles near the bed; 
then laying on the coffin the flowers she had brought 

267 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

she withdrew, deeply moved. Princess Ampara re- 
sembled somewhat the Duchesse d’Alhe, and the 
Empress’s thoughts flew to that much loved sister 
whom she had been unable to see during her last mo- 
ments on earth. 

Notwithstanding this sad errand, and the sorrow- 
ful thoughts of the drive back to Saint Cloud, barely 
had the Empress reached the castle, before it be- 
came necessary for her to cast grief aside and pre- 
pare to start for Versailles, where the admirable 
and magniflcent fete had been so carefully prepared 
for the Spanish King. This incident well illustrates 
one of the unpleasant sides of a ruler’s existence. 
He is never his own master ; this supreme governor 
of men, whom the ignorant imagine the happiest of 
mortals. 

The court started from Saint Cloud at three 
0 ’clock and drove rapidly to the Trianon, where, by 
the way, the Empress had for several years past 
been collecting all articles which had once belonged 
to Marie Antoinette. She was quite proud to show 
her future museum to the Spanish sovereign, who 
greatly encouraged Eugenie in the work. 

It may be interesting to describe in some detail 
one of these out-door festivals which were so fa- 
mous under the Second Empire. 

Before the imperial party arrived, a very con- 
siderable number of guests had already filled the 
park of Versailles. Indeed, they had begun to 
gather quite early in the morning, for numerous in- 
vitations had been sent out to the official and ele- 
gant society of Paris. At six o’clock the King, ac- 
companied by the Emperor, the Empress, the 
Princes of the family, and all the court, were con- 

268 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 

ducted to the principal fountains in the park: the 
Star, the Colonnade, Apollo, Latone, Neptune, Flora, 
where Moliere’s play La Princesse d’ Elide was 
given for the first time in the Bosquet de la Eeine, 
so famous by its association with the sad affair of 
iSie diamond necklace, that curious episode of the old 
regime that the Emperor and the Empress more 
than once tried to fathom. 

Having visited the park, the royal party returned 
to the castle, entering by the marble courtyard and 
stopping in front of the grand staircase. On each 
step was stationed one of the Cent Gardes, and the 
salons and galleries, the railings and banisters, were 
aU covered with flowers and ferns. It seemed in- 
deed as though the home of Louis XIV had 
awakened to all its splendor and was once again in- 
habited by a brilliant court, to greet the great king’s 
grand-nephew, who was now the honored guest with- 
in its walls. 

After an hour spent by the ladies in changing their 
gowns, the court met again for dinner. This took 
place in the apartment formerly occupied by the 
Queen. Immediately afterwards there was a rep- 
resentation in the theater of Psyche, a fine ballet 
with choruses by Corneille and Moliere, which had 
been played in the palace in the time of Louis XIV. 
A then famous dancer. Mademoiselle Fioore, very 
gracefully personified Love in the ballet. 

After the ballet came the illuminations, which 
were magnificent, and greatly enhanced by the 
beauty of the evening. The wonderful fireworks 
were considered fairylike not only by the sovereigns 
and their guests, but also by the large mass of spec- 
tators gathered in every part of the grounds. A 

269 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

more personal detail may be given, perhaps. The 
Empress was wearing a white tnlle gown, trimmed 
with roses, while from her shoulders fell a long cash- 
mere mantle of rod cloth embroidered with gold. 
When the first rockets went up, she expressed the 
desire to leave the terrace and, leaning on the King 
of Spain’s arm, they walked about among the crowd, 
followed only by a lady in waiting and the Duo de 
Morny. So great was the enthusiasm of the spec- 
tators and so eager their desire to give them a warm 
greeting, that the Empress’s mantle was in rags 
before she could escape. The Emperor was a little 
nervous for a moment, and when she got back to 
his side, on the more protected terrace, he remarked : 
"You must feel like exclaiming: ‘Save me from 
my friends.’ ” It was an evening truly worthy of 
the Versailles of Louis XIV and the end was not less 
brilliant than the beginning. It closed with a supper 
in the Galerie des Glaces, during which the Opera 
orchestra was heard, and warmly applauded by 
everybody. To recall the comment of Don Fran- 
cisco: "To listen to this music was alone worth the 
journey from Madrid to Paris.” 

The Court returned to Saint Cloud at two o’clock 
in the morning, after a day which has remained 
legendary in the annals of royal festivities. After 
the emotions of the morning and the constant cere- 
monial of that long day, the Empress might justly 
have claimed the right to be tired. She had the satis- 
faction, however, of having witnessed the full re- 
alization of an idea which originated with her, that 
of giving to the grand-nephew of Louis XIV a really 
unique fete, in every respect worthy of the great 

270 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


“Eoi Soleil,” the creator of Versailles, and recalling 
the magnificent splendor of his memorable reign. 

King Francisco left France after a stay of eight 
days at Saint Cloud, delighted with the cordial wel- 
come he had received everywhere. He still remem- 
li^red it in 1868 when the revolution forced the royal 
family to leave Spain, for it was to France that the 
husband of Queen Isabella returned, and there he 
died some years ago. The Emperor and the Em- 
press met him frequently during the closing years 
of his life and more than once ho spoke of this visit 
and especially of “that never-to-be-forgotten day at 
Versailles,” as he used to say. 

After the departure of King Francisco, wishing 
to show still greater interest in her native land, the 
Empress drove to pay a visit to Queen Christine of 
Spain, widow of Ferdinand VII and mother of 
Queen Isabella, also of several other notable chil- 
dren, among whom was Princess Ampara above 
mentioned. Queen Christine, by the way, lived with 
her husband in the house in the Champs Elysees 
long known as the Hotel de la Eeine Christine, which 
was inhabited during about twenty years by the 
Duchesso d’Uzes, born Mortemart. 

Thus ended this memorable visit which did not a 
little to draw Spain and I'rance more closely to- 
gether, and thus did Napoleon III ever labor to the 
best interests of his country ; and the Empress took 
a deep interest in this good work, especially in this 
instance, for, while loving her adopted land, she 
never forgot that of her birth. 

In the early autumn of 1864 it was announced that 
Prince Humbert of Savoy was coming to France to 
accompany the Emperor to the maneuvers at the 

271 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

camp of Chalons, and it was considered necessary 
to receive the son of Victor Emmanuel with great 
ceremony. This visit of the heir apparent belonged 
to a period of transformation which Italy was per- 
force traversing. The capital was stUl at Turin, 
though, for the better interests of the different prcw- 
inces, it was considered necessary to remove it to 
Florence. While recognizing the necessity for this 
change, it was a matter of deep regret for Victor 
Emmanuel that he should have to deprive Turin, 
the cradle of the house of Savoy, of the privileges 
attached to the capitol of a great state; but there 
were powerful considerations in favor of the pro- 
posed change, considerations of an administrative, 
strategical and parliamentary order which could not 
be overlooked. It was easy to guess, however, 
though Chevalier Nigra, minister of the Italian king 
and persona grata at the French court, was careful 
not to hint at it, that the secret hope of Italian 
statesmen was to reach Rome one day ; and they con- 
sidered the move to Florence a long step in that di- 
rection. But the hour had not yet struck for this, 
and but for the French reverses in 1870, the change 
would certainly not have been accomplished as soon 
as was the ease. Cavour himself was long hostile 
to a too rapid entrance into Rome, declaring that 
there should always be left a future goal for the 
nation to aim at. These matters, though in every- 
body’s mind at the moment of this visit, were not 
broached, for the Empress, for one, did not like 
Italian politics, deeply attached as she was to the 
Holy See and fearing the ambitious aims and pro- 
jects of Victor Emmanuel Everybody knew her 

272 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 


views on these points and so these burning questions 
were avoided. 

Prince Humbert was only twenty in 1864 when he 
came to Paris. He bore very little resemblance to 
Victor Emmanuel, though he strenuously sought to 
iujjtate his manners. He was much more like Prin- 
cess Clotilde ; but in spite of a certain similarity of 
features, their faces nevertheless offered striking 
differences, especially in expression. Again, the 
timidity and gentleness of the brother were replaced 
in the sister by vivacity, firmness and tenacity of 
purpose. 

For several days Saint Cloud was the theater of 
grand receptions and festivities in honor of the 
young Prince, who proved very amiable and gra- 
cious. At one of the receptions, it may be noted, the 
celebrated Comtesse de Castiglione made her ap- 
pearance. It was one of the last occasions on which 
this remarkable woman was seen at Court, and the 
fact still remains vividly fixed in my mind. She was 
presented to the young Prince, who admitted that 
he was very curious to meet her, and declared after- 
wards that she came up to his expectations. This 
is not always the case, by the way. 

After the autumn maneuvers at Chalons, evidently 
much pleased with the cordial welcome given him 
by his hosts and their court, the future unfortunate 
King of Italy returned home. Ever afterwards he 
had a warm place in his heart for France and the 
French people, notwithstanding the fact that Italian 
statesmen, under the influence of Bismarck, strove 
for many years to separate the two countries. But 
during the Second Empire, and especially during 
the earlier period, Napoleon HI held them together, 

273 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


and if they came together once more in the very 
first years of the present century, this natural and 
happy result was due in no small measure to the old 
sentiments of friendliness solidly established by the 
Emperor, of which this visit was one of the founda- 
tion stones. 

After the departure of Prince Humbert, the Em- 
press visited the mineral springs of Schwalbaeh, a 
small town in the duchy of Nassau, then governed 
by Duke Adolphus, who was mulcted of his domin- 
ion in 1866, because of his support of Austria in 
Prussia’s conflict with that power, but later became 
Duke of Luxembourg. 

At that time she was suffering from nervous 
spasms, and the consequent inability to take food 
had reduced her to a state of extreme weakness. 
The doctors advised her to cross the frontier and 
seek health at the waters of Schwalbaeh. But owing 
to the political difiSeulties then prevalent, the Em- 
press was most reluctant to follow their advice and 
only consented to do so on condition that she should 
be allowed to avoid all pomp and Court ceremonial, 
and live in Germany in the strictest privacy. The 
necessary diplomatic negotiations and formalities 
having been attended to, it was finally agreed that, 
traveling under the name of Comtesse de Pierre- 
fonds, she would in no way be subjected to the nu- 
merous and wearisome duties of a sovereign. If I 
am not mistaken, this was, by the way, the first time 
Eugenie used this convenient incognito title, which 
of course comes from the splendidly restored his- 
toric castle of Pierrefonds, near Compiegne. 

The Empress left Saint Cloud by the Imperial 
'train, on September 5th at seven o ’clock in the even- 

274 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 


ing, and readied the frontier about six the follo’wing 
morning, when the French officials, who had accom- 
panied the train, having to make way for Geman 
officials, the latter expressed the desire to “present 
their respects to the Empress.” In spite of the 
easliness of the hour, the latter considered it neces- 
sary to comply with this strange request, and re- 
ceived them. Thereupon, they presented to her a 
bunch of rare orchids, accompanied by a compli- 
ment drawn up in the form of a madrigal, which 
declared that the “most beautiful flowers of Ger- 
many hastened to welcome the most beautiful flower 
of France.” This rather heavy bit of Teutonic flat- 
tery is mentioned here as a striking illustration of 
the friendly feeling for France then existing even 
in the minor German official world. These well-in- 
tentioned individuals carried their chivalrous en- 
thusiasm to the point of decorating with wreaths of 
flowers the locomotive which was to draw the Im- 
perial train. Though her sleep had been interrupted 
— albeit in so poetical a manner — the Empress 
warmly thanked the officials for their courteous re- 
ception, and the train was soon rolling along on 
German soil. 

The inhabitants of the country round about knew 
of Eugenie’s coming and her incognito was conse- 
quently not much respected. At every station were 
words of welcome and cheers innumerable uttered 
by sympathetic crowds, which still further proves 
what I have always held, that if Bismarck and other 
high German politicians had not forced Germany 
into a war with France, the people of the two na- 
tions would have lived on in peace. 

The train hurried over the gigantic bridge which 

275 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


spans the Rhine, passed through Mayenee with its 
pink stone houses, and reached Wiesbaden at one 
o’clock. All along the route the Empress had ob- 
served every feature of land and people, for this was 
her first visit to Germany, since some years, and 
everything interested her in this country, so di:^er- 
ent from France in many respects. In fact this jour- 
ney across the Rhine did much to reawaken her 
waning love for travel, which grew stronger and 
stronger with the years. 

The Duke of Nassau had sent one of his aides-de- 
camp to offer his services and to beg that the Em- 
press would continue her journey in the ducal car- 
riages, which were in attendance, and were driven 
by postilions in orange and blue livery. But as she 
did not wish to make any changes in the program 
which had been laid out for her, she sent her thanks 
to the Duke for his kind attention and mounted, with 
the suite, into the hired landaus which drove for two 
hours through a beautiful hilly country. It was 
pouring with rain when they reached Schwalbach, 
but the Empress was warmly welcomed by a crowd 
of spectators and bathers. 

She took up her abode in a villa of modest appear- 
ance, and adopted the mode of living of aU visitors 
at that watering place. Every one seemed to take 
interest in her health and she was the object of 
many kind attentions. The Empress soon perceived 
a visible change in her appearance, and little by little 
she gained strength. It was clearly evident that 
these excellent waters were producing their usual 
effect. 

The party consisted, among others, of the ladies 
of the Palace, Comtesse de la Bedoyere and Com- 

276 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 

tesse de la Poeze, both, daughters of the Marquis de 
la Eoohelambert, formerly French minister in Prus- 
sia; they knew German and Germany well, having 
been partly educated in that country, and were, 
chiefly for that reason, chosen to go with the Em- 
press oil this tour, her own knowledge of that diffi- 
cult language being very poor, especially at that 
time. Several high Court male officials were also 
in her suite. 

The following description of the daily life at 
Schwalbach is taken from letters written from there 
at the time by a member of the household. This cor- 
respondence is here used for the first time : 

“German hours and mode of living have been 
adopted by us all. The Empress drinks the tepid, 
effervescing waters with great regularity and takes 
the noted baths, which are certainly doing her much 
good. The regulation bath and walk are followed 
by dinner at two o’clock, when the local dishes are 
partaken of without murmur, even to the hirschen 
compote which accompanies the roast joint. One 
day, in honor of the French sovereign, pullets from 
France were sent to the table. The Empress rarely 
notices what is set before her, and, being absorbed 
Lq conversation, she helped herself somewhat absent- 
mindedly; seeing, however, that the dish went the 
round of the table without being touched by any 
of those present, she enquired why no one was 
eating. 

“ ‘Madame,’ was the reply, ‘it is because of the 
peculiar odor which emanates from that dishl’ 

“The Empress started and said, with a smUe: 
‘Ah! and you were going to let me eat it!’ 

“The experiment with French dishes has not, 

277 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

therefore, proved a success, and, after this experi- 
ence, we are determined that chickens and other 
viands of local breeding only shall be employed. 

“In spite of her desire to lead a very simple, 
healthy life, adhering strictly to the regime of the 
place, the Empress cannot avoid receiving certain 
princely visitors. Queen Sophie of the Netherlands, 
on her way to Bvian, has expressed a desire to 
break her journey for a few hours in order to see 
the Empress whom she appears to be fond of, and 
with whom she has kept up a regular correspon- 
dence, 

“The Kiag of Prussia announced his visit at the 
same time as the Queen of Holland. A large bunch 
of roses accompanied the message by which ‘the 
King of Prussia asked to be allowed to pay his re- 
spects to the Comtesse de Pierrefonds.’ He was 
then staying at Baden with his daughter, the Grand 
Duchess Louise. It was impossible for the Em- 
press, in spite of the strict incognito which she is 
maintaining, to refuse to receive King William. So 
he came. On this occasion, and in order to show 
his respect for the Empress’s desire for privacy, 
the King abandoned, for the nonce, his uniform, and 
put on ordinary civilian clothes, wearing, however — 
although his visit took place during the daytime — 
the cordon of the Legion of Honor under his coat. 
The King’s courtesy towards women is well known. 
With the Empress, whom he admires very much, as 
could be seen, he adopted a rather paternal tone 
which was permitted by his greater age. A double 
motive is attributed to his visit.” 

An effort was made by the German official world 
to induce the Empress to waive her objections, and 

278 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


pay some visits to the surrounding princes. Great 
importance was given to the smallest movements 
of sovereigns in that most aristocratic country, and 
it was not without regret she was informed that the 
Court of Berlin witnessed her studied avoidance 
of all compromising intercourse with the different 
members of the royal family of Prussia during the 
sojourn across the Rhine. It was doubtless felt that 
such abstention, though justified by her bad state of 
health, and the events then occurring in the duchies 
— Denmark had just been forced by Prussia and 
Austria to renounce Schleswig-Holstein and Lauen- 
burg — ^might pass in the eyes of Europe as a token 
of unfriendliness. The Prussians desired to obtain 
the absolute neutrality of France in the conflicts 
then pending, and it was natural, therefore, that 
the King should use his influence to obtain Eugenie’s 
consent to make and receive a few important visits. 

It will be remembered that at one time it was sug- 
gested that France should intervene in favor of 
Denmark. Reasons of a general character caused 
this project to be abandoned and France was forced 
to adopt a diplomatic course, in spite of the fact 
that all her sympathies were with Denmark, and op- 
posed to the policy by which the three duchies were 
given to Prussia and Austria, the victorious coun- 
tries. It is evident that, under such circumstances, 
the Empress felt no inclination for princely visits 
which could only be painful for her, and could in no 
way change the course of events. The King, no 
doubt, thought that by his courteous efforts he would 
overcome this reluctance and bring about a meeting 
at Baden between her and Queen Augusta. He 
urged this, .but the Empress declined very decidedly, 

279 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

alleging as a sufficient eseuse the poor state of her 
health, and the doctors’ orders, which would not 
allow her to interrupt, even for a day, the course of 
treatment she was then following. So the King 
gave the matter up, without showing too plainly the 
disappointment he undoubtedly felt. • 

The correspondent, from whom citations have al- 
ready been given, continues as follows the record of 
this German sojourn: “The Empress now hopes 
she has done with visitors. Entirely engrossed by 
her course of treatment, and anxious to have a com- 
plete rest from politics, she takes the baths, drinks 
the waters, scrupulously walks the prescribed dis- 
tances, and makes many excursions in the country 
round about, which she has much enjoyed. Among 
other places the Empress has visited Schlangenbad, 
a neighboring spring which is said to have the power 
of giving the freshness of eternal youth to the skin. 
According to the legend still prevalent in this re- 
gion, the water owes its peculiar properties to the 
eggs which are deposited in its bed by serpents. As 
is the custom, the Empress and her ladies dipped 
their hands in the fountain. For a moment, they 
certainly appeared extraordinarily white, because 
of the transparent nature of the water ; but as soon 
as they were dry, they regained their former ap- 
pearance, and our skin appears just as old or young, 
as the ease may be, as it did before ! We had a good 
laugh over this, the Empress joining in heartily. 

“The Empress has gone very little to Wiesbaden, 
because of the great crowd of visitors there, and 
also, and chiefly, because she does not wish to be 
brought face to face with princely guests whom it 
would there be impossible to avoid. She did not 

280 



VISITS TO OEEMANY AND EGYPT 

once enter tlie Kurbans, but waited in tbe carriage 
while Madame de la Bedoyere and Madame de la 
Poeze, who had expressed the wish to visit the gam- 
ing salons, made a tour of inspection. She gave a 
louis to her lady-in-waiting, in order that she might 
try4ier luck. Mile. Bouvet placed the louis on the 
roulette table and won thirty-six times her stake. 
She did not wait long enough to see her luck change, 
and the three ladies left the gaming rooms all more 
or less affected by the sights they had witnessed 
there. 

“As was to be expected, the Duke of Nassau has 
come to visit the Empress. He suggested that she 
should walk one day to a hunting box, not very far 
distant, where he was in the habit of going to stalk 
deer. The Empress was pleased to consent and 
walked to La Platte, an adnairably situated spot 
from which a magnificent panorama of the neighbor- 
ing country is to be had. This is not the first time 
the Empress has visited La Platte. She saw the 
spot in 1849, during a stay at Ems, and recollects 
the occasion very clearly. The Duke was, of course, 
at the hunting box with all his suite to receive her. 
During her stay he showed her the register of 1849, 
where the name of Comtesse de Teba was found side 
by side with that of the Comtesse de Montijo. 
Luncheon had been prepared in the quaintly fur- 
nished dining-room decorated with antlers and vari- 
ous skins. The Empress says she will long retain 
a vivid recollection of this excursion, of the Duke’s 
courteous welcome, the picturesque furniture, and, 
above all, the marvelous panorama. 

“Often, these summer evenings, the windows aU 
open, one or other of the ladies sits at the piano, 

281 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

and the sound of the sweet music, floating through 
the cool air, falls on the ears of the passers-by. 
The other evening, Comtesse de la Bedoyere, who is 
a talented musician, was playing airs from Faust 
when a group of Tyroleans, passing through the 
town, stopped and asked permission to play fo*^ us, 
‘in their turn,’ as they said. There were four men 
and one woman. For an hour and more the Em- 
press and we other ladies were charmed by moun- 
tain airs sung by very pretty voices accompanied 
by the fascinating Tyrolese yodel. When the sing- 
ing ceased, it was agreed that the musicians should 
return the following day. 

‘ ‘ Nest morning, the Comtesse de la Poeze entered 
Mile. Bouvet’s room in great haste and evidently 
much upset. 

“ ‘I am afraid,’ said she, ‘that something dread- 
ful has happened during the night. My maid heard 
screams coming from the Admiral’s room. (The 
reference is to Admiral Jurien de la Graviere, aide- 
de-camp to the Emperor, who is in the Empress’s 
suite.) She thinks that those Italian singers — ^no 
doubt they were brigands — ^have broken into his 
apartment and murdered him. ’ 

“The maid, whose room was over that occupied 
by the Admiral, repeated the tale, adding many de- 
tails. At two in the morning, she said, she heard 
noises as though some one were struggling, and 
recognized the Admiral’s voice, who was saying: 
‘God, take thy victims!’ — ^whatever that meant. 
Very much alarmed, but hesitating to say anything, 
lest the Empress be disturbed, Madame de la Poeze 
and Mile. Bouvet determined to go and knock at the 
Admiral’s door. 


282 



VISITS TO OEEMAl'JY AND EGYPT 

“ ‘What is the matter?’ inquired a sleepy voice. 

“ ‘Are you still alive, Admiral?’ asked the ladies 
through the door. 

“ ‘Alive ! Why, I am in the hest of health.’ 

“ ‘But have you had no trouhlo?’ 

‘None. What nonsense is this? I have slept 
soundly all through the night. What do you want?’ 

“Thoroughly satisfied and calmed, the ladies told 
the Empress of their alarm as soon as she awoke. 
She thereupon called the maid and questioned her. 
The woman persisted in her story; declared that it 
was a deed of the Tyroleans; that the Admiral had 
most certainly been murdered and that she had very 
clearly heard the last words he uttered : ‘ Grod, take 
thy victims ! ’ 

“At this moment the gallant officer himself ap- 
peared on the scene, when the Empress, laughing 
heartily, asked the Admiral to give an explanation 
of this extraordinary occurrence. M. Jurien de la 
Graviere, somewhat disconcerted at first, eventually 
joined in the general merriment and confessed that 
he was subject to nightmare and was no doubt 
dreaming when he cried out in the night. The Em- 
press and her ladies have keenly enjoyed the little 
incident. 

“Two Frenchmen now staying at Sohwalbach — 
M. Fremy, President of the Credit Foncier Bank, 
and Vicomte Le Pic, a talented painter and son of 
one of the Emperor’s aides-de-camp — ^have amused 
themselves and us by dressing up as Tyroleans and 
coming, two days later, to sing a plaintive song in 
which all the events, great and small, which have 
taken place at Schwalbach during the Empress’s 

283 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


sojourn here, were narrated; and, of course, the 
Admiral’s dream was not omitted!” 

Further evidence was given during this visit of 
the high place then held in European polities by the 
Second Empire. Notwithstanding the Empress’s 
desire and strenuous efforts to maintain her ine(jg- 
nito, it soon became evident that it would be impos- 
sible not to receive other princely visitors than those 
already mentioned. So the Emperor of Russia, then 
staying at Darmstadt with the Empress Marie Alox- 
androvna, courteously came to Schwalbach to pay 
his respects. Nest came the Grand Duke of Baden 
to renew the request of the royal family of Prussia 
that the Empress should stop at Baden. 

In view of the cordial welcome and hospitality 
given her, it was finally considered impossible for 
the Empress to persist any longer in the determina- 
tion to make no oflGicial visits during the cure. So, 
having taken the advice of the Emperor, she con- 
sented to spend a few hours at Baden. The Duchess 
of Hamilton, daughter of Grand Duchess Stephanie 
and cousin of the Emperor, was staying at her castle 
in Baden, and it was arranged that the Empress 
should go there and pay a few visits in the neigh- 
borhood. 

The journey thither was made as quietly as possi- 
ble so as not to attract attention in the district where 
at that moment several princes were staying. The 
Empress slept at Mannheim in order that her ar- 
rival at Baden might happen at a convenient hour. 
While she was at the Mannheim hotel, a telegram 
was handed, during the repast, to Comte de Cosse 
Brissac; who, so as not to betray the incognito, 
thought better to refuse it. The sequel to this tele- 

284 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


gram incident is found in the following paragraph. 

The party left Mannheim for Baden in traveling 
costume, when what was their surprise to find the 
station of Carlsruhe filled with an enormous crowd 
— officers in uniform and military bands playing La 
BKine Hortense, and other airs. The King of Prus- 
sia himself advanced to the carriage door, and pre- 
sented the Grand Duke of Baden to the Empress. 
The King, his son-in-law and a few officers then 
stepped into the train, which continued its route. 
Much astonished at this unexpected reception, she 
inquired how it was that she had not been informed 
beforehand, so that she could have been in better 
form to receive these honors. The King replied that 
he had sent a telegram the day before to Comte de 
Oosse Brissac. The whole thing was now clear, and 
all had quite a laugh over ‘ ‘ our unnecessary unpre- 
paredness,” as the King wittily expressed it. 

A further surprise was in store at Baden. "When 
the train drew up in the station profusely decorated 
with flowers and banners, it was found that the 
Queen of Prussia and the Grand Duchess of Baden 
were there to meet the Empress. They were attired 
in gala dresses which contrasted strangely with the 
simple traveling costume of Eugenie and the ladies 
of her suite. After cordial greetings, they drove in 
the Court landaus to the Duchess of Hamilton’s pal- 
ace, where it was arranged that the Empress should 
attend the grand dinner offered that same evening 
in her honor by the Grand Duke of Baden, which de- 
layed the departure until the following morning. 

Eugenie naturally supposed that she had some 
hours before her in which to rest after the jour- 
ney, which had been fatiguing, owing to the heat 

285 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

wMcli had suddenly returned, and to the unex- 
pected receptions which she had had to undergo. 
Her boxes had not been opened, and she was in her 
dressing gown, when lo, and behold! the King of 
Prussia was announced. It was his oflScial visit, and 
so it was impossible not to receive him, while it Was 
equally impossible, owing to Court etiquette, to 
make him wait. So the Empress was forced hastily 
to put on again her traveling costume, a black silk 
skirt, and red woolen bodice, over which she threw 
a sealskin cloak which she had worn that morning 
and in which she was nearly suffocated during the 
conversation, which lasted half an hour. 

As soon as the Empress had changed her costume, 
she went to return Queen Augusta’s visit. At the 
palace she found not only the Queen, but the Grand 
Duke and the Grand Duchess of Baden and all the 
courtiers gathered together. The reception was 
most courteous, and the Empress was the object of 
marked attentions, while the Countess of Lynar, a 
lady who knew her Paris well, and the other ladies 
of the Court, which, by the way, seemed more than a 
hundred years behind the rest of the world, were 
full of gracious attentions for the ladies of our 
party. 

After visiting the points of interest in the town, 
the Empress returned to change her gown again, 
and then drove to the summer palace of the Grand 
Duke in that town, then frequented by the most ele- 
gant society of Europe. After a sumptuous repast 
there was some music and Madame Viardot, whom 
the Queen of Prussia liked to attract to Baden, sang 
before the sovereigns. Eugenie especially appre- 
ciated this attention, for this celebrated singer was 

286 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


a great favorite with the Emperor and our whole 
court. 

A kind effort was made to keep her still longer at 
Baden, but the Empress had to decline, her excuse 
being that she had already delayed her departure, 
tbi'ough that night, and that the Imperial train, 
which had come to meet her, was waiting. Queen 
AugTista then invited the Empress to come and 
drink coffee with her before starting, and this final 
kind invitation was accepted. Next morning, at 
eight o’clock precisely, the Empress reached the 
Queen’s apartments, where breakfast was prepared. 
Every one was in full dress. That morning the 
Queen wore a blue taffeta dress trimmed with white 
lace and a blue hat with feathers, which costume was 
most tasteful and left an impression on all. As this 
was the only opportunity Eugenie ever had of meet- 
ing Queen Augusta, who never came to France, her 
words, acts, and appearance on this occasion were 
long fresh in her memory. 

The Queen of Prussia was then fifty years of age. 
She was rather tall, had blue eyes, and features 
which retained much grace, though she had a rather 
weary face. Her hair was dressed in wavy ban- 
deaux which had been fashionable some ten or fif- 
teen years before, and which, consequently, gave her 
a somewhat ancient appearance. She was a very 
clever woman, spoke French delightfully, was well 
acquainted with French literature and was some- 
what expansive in conversation. She was almost 
tenderly effusive toward the Empress, whom she 
then saw for the first time, and her kind words and 
wishes were fully returned. In a word, Eugenie 
was peculiarly attracted to the Prussian Queen. 

287 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


The correspondent who has already been quoted, 
wrote as follows concerning the Prussian King and 
Queen : 

“It is universally known that the royal couple 
are not on good terms, and that the Queen is rarely 
with the King. Notwithstanding the wish of their 
children and various efforts which have been made 
to bring them together, they live much estranged 
one from another. This sojourn at Baden has been 
one of the rare occasions when they were together. 
I am told that the Queen has never had any influence 
with her husband and holds an entirely indepen- 
dent court, which is more intellectual than politi- 
cal.” 

To the end of her life, and in spite of her infirmi- 
ties, the Queen of Prussia and Empress of Ger- 
many retained a very dignified manner and showed 
at all times extraordinary energy in sustaining the 
prerogatives of her rank. She took no active part 
in the political events of her day, and, though wear- 
ing the imperial purple, merely looked on as a spec- 
tator. It must not be forgotten, however, that, dur- 
ing the War of 1870, she showed great kindness of 
heart and, in spite of the very slight influence she 
had with the military and political party, did all in 
her power to alleviate the sufferings of the French 
soldiers. These facts the Empress always kept in 
memory, so that she has ever had a most tender 
feeling for the Empress of Germany. But how lit- 
tle did either of them dream, during those days at 
Baden, when Queen Augusta and her daughter vied 
with one another in showing the Empress every 
kindness and attention, of the terrible tragedy which 
was so shortly to startle Europe. 

288 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 

One final instance of the tender attention of the 
Qneen. It had been decided that the train would 
start at a quarter to ten, and that the King and all 
the Court should accompany the Empress to the 
carriage. This was done; but this was not all. 
"VWien the latter reached Saint Cloud, she found a 
telegram awaiting her. It was from the Queen of 
Prussia inquiring for news of the journey, and in 
the course of the evening a second telegram arrived, 
this time from the Grand Duchess of Baden, with 
similar inquiries and cordial greetings. Appro- 
priate answers were, of course, returned. Again I 
may state that the Empress never regretted these 
early cordial relations with the future German Em- 
press, but always felt that if they could have been 
cultivated, something might have been done to 
avert the conflict which tore apart the two nations. 

The Suez Canal was a peculiarly Napoleonic un- 
dertaking. The first Emperor would have begun it 
if ho had not been deterred by a mistake of one of 
his engineers concerning the level of the Red Sea. 
Ferdinand de Lesseps, whose energy finally carried 
the enterprise to success, was a relative of the Em- 
press, and Napoleon III lent all the aid which his 
high position could give to remove various diplo- 
matic and political difficulties which arose from time 
to time during the progress of this gigantic work 
and which more than once threatened its consum- 
mation. ‘ It was in every way fitting, therefore, when 
the great task was successfully accomplished, that 
the French Government should take a leading part 
in the ceremonies of the inauguration. 

On November 16, 1869, the eve of the day set for 
the opening of the canal, the Imperial yacht, Aigle, 

289 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

escorted by several warsMps, was majestically ad- 
vancing towards Port-Said. The Empress was on 
board and next day she was to preside at the in- 
augural ceremony. The Emperor had informed the 
French Parliament that it was his “desire that, by 
her presence, the Empress should bear witness ®to 
the interest felt by France in a work due to the per- 
severance and genius of a Frenchman.” This was 
the reason why she was given this peculiar and im- 
portant mission. 

The Empress was accompanied on this grand voy- 
age by a numerous and brilliant suite, and was 
everywhere received and treated as a sovereign not 
only of France, but of Europe. She always retained 
the most vivid I'ocollection of this memorable voy- 
age. In 1905 she revisited the spot where she had 
been so triumphantly welcomed over thirty-five 
years before; and when, on board the Macedonia, 
the shores of Egypt were first seen silhouetted 
against the horizon, so strong was the emotion which 
the Empress felt that for a moment tears came into 
her eyes, so touching was the vision which had sud- 
denly rushed back on her, by a swift trick of mem- 
ory, like a radiant transformation scene. 

At Constantinople, where the Empress went first 
to visit the Sultan, suzerain of the Khedive, the re- 
ception was extraordinarily magnificent. The Turk- 
ish ruler had spared none of the magic power of 
Oriental pomp to render the receptions more effec- 
tive, and the impression produced on the imagina- 
tion of the Ottoman population by the presence 
among them of a crowned woman, an unheard-of 
event in the annals of Islam, was said to have sur- 
passed all that can be imagined. When the Empress 

290 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 

was told of this fact, by one of the ministers, she 
remarked: “I trust I have been worthy of my sex 
and have been no discredit, in the eyes of these good 
people, to the crowned heads of the stronger sex.” 
He very politely assured her that she “almost 
equaled the Sultan ! ’ ’ 

On the first approach of the Aigle, an entire fleet 
of ships, decked with flags, came out to meet the 
Empress. An enormous crowd covered the two 
shores of the Bosphorus, while the fire of thirty bat- 
teries announced our arrival. Finally the Aigle 
dropped anchor in front of the palace of Beyler-bey, 
Mhen a row-boat, surmounted by a red dais of vel- 
vet, embroidered in gold, left the quay and came 
rapidly forward, and the Empress soon perceived 
that the Sultan himself had come to fetch her and 
to escort her with solemn pomp to the palace. 

The Turkish sovereign desired to show every sign 
of courtesy, respect, thought and attention and even 
wished to kiss the Empress’s hand, an unheard-of 
thing, I am told, on the part of the Commander of 
the Faithful. But, out of respect for Mussulman 
customs and feelings, she discreetly declined to al- 
low this mark of homage to be paid to her, and 
warmly thanked the Sultan for his many kindnesses. 
She then told him how deeply pleased she was with 
all the beautiful sights that had met her eyes since 
her arrival in Turkish waters. 

After paying the Sultana Valide a visit which she 
returned the following day, the Empress witnessed, 
seated in a vast stand hung with velvet and cloth 
whose hue was that of the French colors, a review 
of twenty-two thousand soldiers. Though she had 
seen many of the finest troops of Christian Europe, 

291 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


there was a certain originality, wildness and dash 
about these Turkish soldiers that charmed her and 
the memory of which always remained with her. 

In the evening, the Bosphorus was illuminated, 
and the palaces, public buildings, kiosks and ships 
of the imperial marine all shone with multicolored 
lights. Everything appeared to be aflame, from the 
Arsenal to Therapia. The beautiful night, and the 
calm sea under a starlit sky gave the already mar- 
velous scenery an indescribable grandeur and 
awakened feelings of the most emotional nature. It 
was one of the Arabian nights brought into a burn- 
ing and magnificent reality. Delighted with what 
she beheld, the Empress repeatedly expressed her 
pleasure and thanks, and, at the same time, her re- 
gret that the Emperor and Prince Imperial could 
not be present at these unforgettable scenes in which 
France was glorified in the person of her sovereign. 
From that day on the Empress always enjoyed a 
visit to the far eastern end of the Mediterranean, 
and in those waters many of the happiest days of 
her later life were spent. 

All these Turkish festivities paled, however, be- 
fore those that awaited her in Egypt. The inaugura- 
tion of the Suez Canal was for France a real 
triumph in the eyes of the whole civilized world — 
almost an apotheosis. Surrounded by the Emperor 
of Austria, the Prince Royal of Prussia, the Prince 
and Princess of the Netherlands, Emir Abd-el- 
Kader, M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, and a host of other 
celebrities, the Empress presided that day, in the 
name of France and in the presence of the nations, 
at the solemn consecration of the greatest engineer- 
ing enterprise of the century. France had morally 

292 



VISITS TO GEEMANY AND EGYPT 


and pecuniarily supported the project of M. de Les- 
seps, so we have good ground to he proud. Perhaps 
it is not too much to say that it was due in part to 
Eugenie’s influence and to her perseverance in aid- 
ing M. de Lesseps, whose grand project she admired 
frouk the very first, that the canal was finally fin- 
ished. M. de Lesseps was in the habit of mating 
this statement much stronger. 

The great engineer and diplomat has written the 
following words which I may be allowed to give 
here, especially as I do not think they have ever 
been printed before: “The Empress has claimed 
no part in the work now accomplished ; but her pres- 
ence at the ceremony was so natural that it was the 
fit consecration of the conduct she had hitherto ob- 
served. Every one agreed to show the Empress 
something more than a respectful homage and defer- 
ence ; there was in it a tribute of gratitude the real 
significance of which could escape no one’s atten- 
tion. In the midst of a dazzling vision sparkling 
with shimmering Oriental and African costumes, 
mingled with Western uniforms, Circassian and 
Hungarian magnates, mufties in green caftans, and 
officers of the Indian army, the French sovereign 
was the cynosure of all eyes. Not one minute did 
she dream of priding herself unduly on all this hom- 
age. She was only desirous that the woman should 
not efface the sovereign, and wished it to be felt 
that all this incense and honor was offered to the 
Empress simply as representing at one and the 
same time a great country and the triumph of civil- 
ization.” 

Before the blessing of the canal was performed 
by the Bishop of Alexandria, Mgr. Bauer, the fash- 

293 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

ionable prelate of the epoch, pronouiiced an elo- 
quent discourse. To the Empress who found it 
difficult to hide her emotion, the eloquent priest ad- 
dressed the following words, which she, of course, 
felt were much too flattering, but which are given 
here as a good example of the excessive homagopaid 
her and, through her, to Prance, on this occasion : 

' ‘ Those who have cooperated in an intimate man- 
ner in this groat enterprise, know the part your 
Majesty has played therein, and know that that part 
is large. But it is your custom to do the most im- 
portant things in silence. Howevcr,'it is necessary 
that history should register the fact that this tre- 
mendous work is to a very great extent yours ; and 
history, in saying this, will speak only the bare 
truth. But history will add that, in lending your in- 
fluence to this enterprise, this Canal of the Two 
Worlds, you have been in closest communion of 
thought and sympathy with the whole of France, 
which has ever approved of this grand work, with 
that generous and noble Prance which, in every class 
of society, has been enthusiastic in wishing well for 
the Suez Canal, and prodigal in lending its millions, 
its arms, its engineers, its machinery; with that 
France, I say, which has, so to speak, identified itself 
with one of its sons so providentially gifted by per- 
suasive and simple eloquence for the accomplish- 
ment of this prodigious undertaking.” 

The following day the flotilla which carried the 
Princes started, with the Ai^le at its head, to at- 
tempt for the first time the passage henceforth to 
be opened to the commerce of the entire world. But 
an unfortunate accident delayed the departure. An 
Egyptian advice-boat, sent off ahead, got stuck in 

294 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


the sand and interrupted the navigation. Informed 
of this fact, the Khedive flew into a terrible passion ; 
but M. do Losseps, informed of the matter, gave 
this order, with his cuetom£ir7 imperturbable se- 
renity: “We must either got the boat off the sand, 
which is not impossible, oi .^'it Are to it, or blow it 
up.” The first method liaviug fortunately succeed- 
ed, there was but a slight deday, and two hours later 
the lino got under way again, the boat firing a sig- 
nal to this effect. 

The Empress knew nothing of this mishap, so that 
when she heard this round of cannon shots coming 
from the unlucky boat shunted into one of the canal 
stations, she imagined that the Viceroy had shown 
the delicate attention of anchoring one of his gun- 
boats there to do her honor. She so informed M. 
de Lesseps, who explained the real case, whereupon 
it is said that she remarked: “Well, you see I 
am disposed to give the Khedive the benefit of the 
doubt. We are treated with so many honors that 
it would not take much to make me believe that the 
thunder and lightning are a part of the fete.” 

A few minutes later M. de Lesseps presented to 
the Empress his young fiancee, MUe. de Bragand. 
Notwithstanding the difference in age between this 
young girl and M. de Lesseps, who was just sixty, 
Fuo'p-nie did not hesitate, after a chat with her, to 
compliment M. de Lesseps on his choice and inform 
him that she well understood his determination to 
wed her. “Now that the canal is finished, you have 
earned the right to retire to the home-circle. ” “ But 
some of my quidnunc friends assure me,” answered 
the Count, “that it is easier to dig a canal than to 

295 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

live happily with a young wife ; hut I believe I can 
do both.” And he did. 

Ismailis, an improvised town set up in the open 
air and full of people of all countries, seemed like 
fairyland as the Imperial party approached it. Here 
dromedaries were mounted in order to review the 
cavalcade of troops and the Bedouins ’ fantasia. Some 
hundreds of horsemen, with their burnoose flying 
in the wind, handled their vigorous and agile ani- 
mals with a marvelous dexterity and waved their 
long carbines in the air, firing as they flew past. 
Standing up straight in their stirrups, they threw 
themselves into the course with the swiftness of 
lightning and executed clever evolutions in the midst 
of clouds of dust and smoke from their fire-arms. 
Other Arabs, erect on their fine, richly caparisoned 
dromedaries, also took part in these fantastic exer- 
cises and sent their djerrids flying to a great dis- 
tance, the javelinlike arm, with its blunt point, re- 
bounding from shields of buffalo skin. The sound 
of the rifles and the cries of joy from an enthusiastic 
crowd added to the animation of this picturesque 
spectacle and all repeatedly expressed their won- 
der and interest. 

Before the ball in the evening there was a visit 
to the dervishes — howling and whirling dervishes; 
some, holding between their teeth a burning coal or 
a red-hot iron, turning on their heels with a star- 
tling rapidity, others working themselves up into 
fearful convulsions or thrusting into their ears, 
their tongues and other parts of the body, sharp in- 
struments, until they succumbed under the fatigue 
or the pain; others chewing cactus leaves, or eating 
live serpents and scorpions. All this was viewed with 

296 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 


more or less revulsion and some, with morbid curi- 
osity. Of most interest to the Empress, were 
their religious exercises, which appear to consist 
chiefly in the recital of zikrs. Seated or standing, 
they form a circle, and then sing or scream out the 
“illajla,” ‘‘illalah,” until their strength is spent. 
They accompany this wild song with movements of 
the body, and throw their heads forwards and back- 
wards, and from right to left. One of them goes 
into the middle of the circle and dances, with verti- 
ginous rapidity, a sort of two-step valse, ceasing 
only when he is utterly worn out and groaning with 
fatigue. He is then immediately replaced by an- 
other who does the same thing. These fakir rites 
are now well known in the West; but at the time of 
her visit to Egypt this was not the case, and these 
strange ceremonies made a deep impression on 
Eugenie that has never worn off. 

Bengal lights of many colors played a prominent 
part at the ball given at the Viceroy’s palace, 
which striking edifice was built, furnished and 
surrounded with flower-gardens all in less than six 
months. There was present a great crowd bedecked 
with orders of all kinds, the rich costumes of the 
sheiks in great caftans with ornamented belts of 
gold and precious stones giving a peculiar stamp to 
the variegated scene which was not soon to be for- 
gotten. The Empress walked several times round 
the ball-rooms with the sovereigns and princes, and 
was in no haste to depart ; for never before had she 
seen such a curious sight and seldom since; and 
when, at one o’clock, a fairylike supper was served, 
she warmly congratulated the Khedive on the artis- 
tic success of the really superb fete. 

297 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Next day there was a visit to Suez. At this point, 
M. Riou, the draftsman of the Paris Illusiraiion, 
who had made the drawings of the different parts of 
the canal, offered the Empress an album filled with 
excellent water-color pictnres. She carefully pre- 
served this rare volume, as it brought back t^ her 
so vividly this memorable voyage ; but unfortunately 
it was destroyed in the Tuileries fire in 1871. 

On Saturday, the 20th, the boats of the different 
sovereigns and princes arrived at Suez. Cannon 
were fired to salute their appearance, and the scene 
again became truly wonderful. Ah. the ships were 
drawn up in a line of battle while the magnificent 
harbor, admirably lighted, was framed at the far 
end by high mountains elegantly silhouetted against 
the sky. The Red Sea was calm, and myriads of 
little fish swam between the various craft. The 
Empress spent a long time drinking in this beauti- 
ful scene from the deck of her yacht. “Your maj- 
esty is evidently charmed by this view,” remarked 
the Khedive. “I am, indeed,” she replied. “M. de 
Lesseps says this alone was worth making the canal 
for,” added Ismail. “I fully share his opinion,” 
Eug4nie answered full of enthusiasm. 

Another ball was to be given at Cairo in honor of 
the foreign sovereigns, but the Empress could not 
be present on that occasion. After visiting Sakka- 
rah, the Serapeum and the granitic curiosities there, 
she decided to make a trip up the Nile, which had 
always been one of her fondest dreams, and whence, 
on November 27, she wrote to Napoleon a letter 
which has never been given exactly and which may 
be found interesting: 


298 



VISITS TO GERMANY AND EGYPT 

My very dear Louis : 

I wiite this on my way to Assouan on the Kile. To say we feel 
cool wo'uld not be absolutely true, but the heat is quite bearable, 
for there is some breeze, though in the sun it is a difi'erent matter. 
I have news of you and of Louis every day by telegram. This 
is marvelous and very precious to me, and I am always held to 
the iriendly shore by that wire which unites me to all I love. 

I am delighted with our charming vo^mge. I would like to 
describe it to you, but many others more clever and better with 
their pens than I am, have undertaken that task; so it seems I 
had best wrap myself up in mute admiration. 

The letter then touches on current French politics 
which were very stormy at this moment, and con- 
tinues : 

I was much toi-mented by yesterday^s events and to know that 
you are in Paris without me; but all has passed off well as I 
learn by your wire. When one sees other peoples, one appreci- 
ates better the injustice of our own. I think, nevertheless, one 
should not be disheartened, but walk forward in the way you have 
opened up; faith in the concessions which have been granted is, 
as we think and say, a good thing; I therefore hope that your 
speech before the Chambers will be couched in that sense; the 
greater the need of strength in the future, the more necessary it is 
to show the country that one has ideas and not mere devices. I 
am very far off and very ignorant of things since my departure 
to speak thus, but I am firmly convinced that continuity of ideas 
is true force; I do not like sudden jumps and am convinced that 
one cannot bring about two coups d’etat in the same reign. I am 
talking at random, for I am preaching to one who knows more on 
this subject than I do. But I must say something if only to prove 
what you well know — that my heart is near you both, and if in 
days of calm my vagabond spirit loves to roam in space, it is near 
you two that I like to be on days of anxiety and worry. 

Far from men and things one breathes a serenity which is 
beneficial to body and spirit; and by an effort of the imagination 
I fancy that all is well with you because I know nothing abo-ut 
what is going on. Amuse yourself. I think distractions are in- 
dispensable, for one must build up one^s moral fabric just as one 

299 



MEMOIRS OE THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

builds up an enfeebled constitution. Certainly thinking about 
one thing ends by wearing* out the best organized brain. I have 
experienced this, and I now dismiss from memory all that which 
in the past has tarnished the fine colors of my day-dreams. My 
own life is finished ; but I live again in my son and I hold those as 
real joys which pass through his heart to mine. 

Meanwhile, I enjoy my trip, the sunsets, and this wili yet 
cultivated nature on a space fifty yards wide along the banks, 
behind which is the desert with its sand hills, and the whole 
lighted up by an ardent sun. 

Good-by, and always believe in the afiection of your very 
devoted 

Eugekie. 

Soon after penning this letter, the Empress re- 
turned to France, where she found that the small 
black clouds, which had gro\\m during her absence, 
were about to burst and one of the heaviest poli- 
tical storms that Europe has known was on the point 
of breaking over Germany and her adopted country. 
The high respect shown for France by all the official 
world during this eastern tour strengthened the 
Empress in her efforts to do all in her power to 
avert the catastrophe; and when, in after years, 
she looked back on this period, Eugenie al- 
ways felt that the conflict of 1870 should never have 
occurred and could never have occurred if the pas- 
sion to “unify Germany” had not became a “fixed 
idea” in the brain of a little group of high-handed 
statesmen on the other side of the Rhine. “The 
peace of the East” would have continued to prevail 
in the West if it had not been for these Teutonic 
perturbators. 



CHAPTEE Xn 


« 

OOTJET LIFE DTJEING THE SECOND EMPIEE 

Since the end of the Eestoration in 1830 down to 
the advent of the Second Empire in 1852, that is, for 
a period of over twenty years, there may be said to 
have been in France no such thing as Court Life in 
the full meaning of the term. Louis Philippe prided 
himself on being the Citizen King and great sim- 
plicity reigned at the Tuileries. But the Emperor 
Napoleon knew how the French character liked court 
ceremonies and how advantageous it would be to 
the Paris trades people if fashion and wealth were 
given an opportunity to assert themselves. So one 
of his first acts on becoming Emperor was to give as 
rich a stamp as possible to the Court life of the new 
government, and in these efforts the Empress did all 
in her power to second him. 

In 1869, only a few months before the opening of 
the Suez Canal, in the execution of which work the 
personal intervention of the Emperor, as we saw in 
the last chapter, had had such great weight, there 
was no favor which the Emperor was not ready to 
grant to the Khedive Ismail and his son Hussein 
Pacha, who was then studying in Prance. In the 
s umm er of that year, the latter came to spend a 
month at Saint Cloud, accompanied by his governor, 
Major de Castex, who later became General de Cas- 
tex. The attentions paid this young man will give a 

301 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


fair idea of a certain amiable side of court life under 
the Second Empire. 

At first, the entire change of life and habits some- 
what disconcerted the Egyptian prince; but the 
cordial welcome he received from the Emperor and 
the Empress, and also from the Prince Impetial, 
whose games he shared at the Tuileries, speedily put 
him at his ease and made him feel quite at home in 
the court circle. Of middle height, olive complexion, 
with fine black eyes and a good figure, speaking 
French very correctly, affable when not overcome by 
shyness, Prince Hussein was charming at the age of 
sixteen or seventeen. Since then, he has become a 
man of intellectual parts whom all the capitals of 
Europe have learned to appreciate ; and now hardly 
a year passes that he does not spend some months in 
Germany, but especially in England and in France, 
where he has numerous friends, and where he com- 
mands respect and admiration of all intelligent 
circles. 

Prom the moment the young Prince set foot in 
Saint Cloud, in that summer, of some forty years 
ago, every effort was made to interest him in things 
that would improve his heart and mind. The conver- 
sation constantly turned on Egypt, and he was con- 
stantly consulted as to the program of the voyage 
which the Empress was about to undertake. He fully 
appreciated the compliment, was most charming and 
“pleased every one infinitely by his good manners 
and graciousness,” as the Emperor said to his 
father. He saw the Prince Imperial, who was then 
thirteen, several times each day, and the two boys 
became fast friends. They rode together under the 
vigilant eye of M. Bachon, the Prince’s riding mas- 

302 



COURT LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 


ter; they walked together or amused themselves at 
the gymnasium in the private park or at games in 
the Trocadero garden, accompanied by the faithful 
Conneau, and, on certain days, they enjoyed the 
society of some of the Prince Imperial’s other com- 
pasions — the young Due de Huescar, son of the Due 
d’Albe, Jules Espinasse, son of the General, and the 
sons of Baron Corvisart, my brother and me. It 
was always, by the way, one of Eugenie’s principal 
worries to find suitable playmates for her son. 

After the birth of the Prince Imperial, until the 
end of the Second Empire, care for his health, 
anxiety when he was absent from the palace or from 
Paris and a general regard for his interests and 
welfare largely modified in fact the spirit of Court 
life, especially as concerned the Emperor and the 
Empress. They could never forget for a moment 
how precious was the life of this child both to them 
and to the regime which they had reestablished with 
so much effort and sacrifice. Let me give one 
example of this excessive care which they had to 
exercise over everything that concerned the Prince 
Imperial. And how well I remember the incident ! 

In 1865, Mile. Robin, a charming young girl, was 
taken with a rash just before one of the Tuileries 
balls. She pleaded with her mother to let her attend 
notwithstanding this sign of danger of some sort. 
She was a fine dancer, and the Prince Imperial was 
very attentive to her that evening. When she re- 
turned home after a pretty vigorous evening of 
waltzing, she was taken ill and the physicians soon 
saw that she had the measles. The disease struck in 
and in forty-eight hours the poor child was dead. 

303 



MBMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


We ■were all nrach afflicted at the news ; but that was 
not the end of our sorrows. 

Measles was epidemic at that moment at Paris and 
was very virulent. New and dangerous cases were 
constantly reported. The Prince Imperial was soon 
down with it, and the doctors of the Court all said he 
had caught it from the unfortunate Mile. Eobin. 
When he was supposed to have recovered, it was 
considered desirable, in order to help disperse the 
fears then rife in Paris, both concerning the epi- 
demic in general and the attack which the Prince had 
just undergone, that he should appear in public. So 
on March 16th, which was his birthday, he was per- 
mitted to drive out. The Empress felt very uneasy 
about this, but she did not like to interfere, es- 
pecially as the Emperor was disposed to twit her a 
bit about her “apron-string” treatment of their dear 
boy. But they soon saw that he had gone out too soon 
after his convalescence. Although the day was fine, 
it was very cold for the season and the Prince was 
not benefited by the outing. Quite the contrary. On 
his return to the palace, he had a chill and was many 
days in recovering. In fact, he did not shake off the 
result of this illness for many months afterwards ; 
and during this time, his condition made many mod- 
ifications in the whole social and public life of the 
Court. 

But to return to our Egyptian friends, at the be- 
ginning of July, 1869, the Kledive Ismail himself 
came to officially invite the Empress to the festivi- 
ties of the opening of the Canal. The fMe given in 
his honor was very magnificent. For the first and 
last time the gardens were illuminated with electric 
lights, by means of two batteries placed in the win- 

304 



COURT LIFE DURINC THE EMPIRE 

dows of the upper floors of the eastle. Splendid fire- 
works .were set off and the park was thrown open 
in order that the public might better enjoy the sight. 
The Prince Imperial and his companions were al- 
lowed to sit up beyond the usual hour and several 
of |he hoys still remember vividly the scene which 
they admired from the iron horse-shoe balcony of 
the castle. Before the fireworks were set off, a 
troupe of excellent actors gave, in the Salon de 
Mars, Gondinet’s play La cravate blanche. The play 
had very nearly to be abandoned because of the in- 
quisitiveness of the public, which had taken advan- 
tage in great numbers of the Emperor’s permission 
to enter the park and gardens, and now seemed bent 
on penetrating into the palace itself. So it was 
found necessary to clear the terrace immediately 
surrounding the castle, and thus prevent the crowd 
from getting in at the windows. By this means no 
disorder spoiled the end of the fete. 

Great preparations had been made for the ball 
which was to follow the illuminations and fire-works. 
An amusing detail may be given which shows that 
the court etiquette of the Second Empire was not 
unbending, ‘'i^en it was learned that the Khedive 
Ismail did not possess the shadow of a pair of knee- 
breeches in his wardrobe, the other gentlemen were 
ordered to wear frock-coats and trousers, and the 
Egyptian Prince was not aware of the momentary 
confusion which he had occasioned. 

This ball, given in the Galerie d ’Apollo and the 
neighboring salons, was one of the finest fetes of 
the Empire. The official world, elegant society, dis- 
tinguished foreigners, and numerous officers were 
invited and their various costumes and uniforms 

305 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

produced a striking effect. The warm weather made 
it possible for the guests to stroll in the park under 
the fine old trees, which added immensely to the 
charm of the evening’s entertainment. 

A remarkable example of “Court flattery” which, 
naturally, the Empress always discouraged, oc- 
curred at this ball, and as it was worthy of a Ver- 
sailles courtier of the olden time, it may be men- 
tioned here. The very young daughter of a well- 
known deputy of Bourgogne was presented to the 
Empress. Perceiving that the girl was somewhat 
abashed the latter said kindly to her: “Do not be 
afraid. Mademoiselle. Have you any favor {grace, 
in French) to ask of me?” 

“Ah, Madam,” replied the pretty and precocious 
child, “when one has had the joy of looking upon 
you, the only grace one can wish for is yours. ’ ’ 

Those who heard the compliment were rather 
astonished and surprised. It was repeated through- 
out the palace and had quite a success, but was evi- 
dently too pretty not to have been prepared before- 
hand. 

This, by the way, was the last fete given at Saint 
Cloud. The imfortunate war of 1870 was at hand, 
the castle with all its art treasures and historic sou- 
venirs was burnt during the catastrophe, and sad to 
relate, to-day only a grassy sward marks the spot 
where the famous palace once stood in all its beauty. 

The Queen-Mother Isabella, and the Prince of the 
Asturias, who became later King of Spain, came to 
dine at the palace on two occasions at about this 
period. The Queen, already afflicted by excessive 
obesity, was affable as usual, smiling amiably on 
every hand, and saying a kind word to every one. 

306 



COUET LIFE DUEING THE EMPIEE 

I particularly remember this visit because a dauce 
was got up in the Salon de Mars, to the sound of a 
mechanical piano, a contrivance then attracting con- 
siderable attention, but which I abominated and 
which I heard for the first time on this occasion. The 
Prijice Imperial and his boy friends were respon- 
sible for its presence at the castle. They used to 
say, that they wished to see “how it worked.” 

The monotony of the evenings at Saint Cloud were 
thus often broken into by a little gaiety. Every one 
danced at these small “hops,” oflScers from the gar- 
rison and members of princely households mingling 
together. The Prince Imperial and his companions 
also had their little hops, and it was not rare for the 
Emperor to demand the Boulangere, a dance whose 
chief figure resembles the grand chain of the 
Lancers, and if he felt in the mood, he would even 
set the example himself and take part in the general 
merriment. 

The other evening spent by Queen Isabella at the 
palace was devoted to a ride in jaunting cars 
through the Bois de Boulogne. The day had been 
very oppressive and the sovereigns and their guests 
went out to seek a little fresh air. Leaving our car- 
riages when they reached the meadows which border 
the Seine, on the west side of the Bois, the royal 
party greatly enjoyed the promenade. The three 
little princes who were of the party — the Prince Im- 
perial, the future Alfonso XII, and Hussein Pacha 
— accompanied by their friends, began to play like 
schoolboys on a holiday. Who could then have 
guessed what the future had in store for two of 
them? 

Many anecdotes might be related concerning the 

307 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


court of tlie Second Empire at Saint Cloud. The fol- 
lowing, which is not generally known, may be given 
here: 

"When the Emperor was fresh from the historical 
researches connected with his Life of Julius Gcesar, 
his mind was naturally stored with the facts, d^tes 
and names relating to Eoman history. So he took 
a malicious pleasure in seizing the occasion of the 
gathering of the household at meal-time to suddenly 
startle this or that guest by asking puzzling ques- 
tions about ancient history. Consequently, every- 
body was on tenter hooks when the conversation 
turned towards these early times, and every face 
would look down on the plates so as to avoid meeting 
the Emperor’s glance and so escape the humiliation 
of being laughed at by those present, for some ab- 
surd reply, that perhaps a schoolboy would not be 
guilty of. ‘ ‘ Nothing makes one so happy as the fail- 
ure of others,” was the remark which the quizzing 
host made, on one of these occasions, when each of 
us seemed to enjoy the discomfiture of his or her 
neighbor. 

The automatic movement of the heads, all bending 
down at the same moment, had something very 
funny in it, and amused the Emperor as though he 
had been a child. It was good to hear his open and 
catching laughter when he had asked a very compli- 
cated question and the person addressed, after 
blushing or stammering, remained speechless. This 
catechizing was indulged in even on the days when 
the ministers met in council, and the discreet but 
real enjoyment which the Emperor felt when an 
“Excellency” “flunked” was especially amusing. It 
is needless to add that the Emperor never showed a 

308 



COUET LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 


lack of tact in this connection and was careful in 
the choice of his innocent victims. Thus he never 
questioned Prince Hussein, who might have replied 
by asking a fact in the histoiy of some of the 
Eameses, nor the Prince’s governor, being careful 
not^to diminish the prestige of the tutor in the eyes 
of the young Egyptian. 

Another anecdote concerns General de GallifPet, 
then a colonel returning from Africa, where he held 
a command. One morning he arrived at Saint Cloud, 
at half past eleven, and waited in the salon preced- 
ing the dining-room, where every one welcomed him, 
for he was known to be persona grata at court. 
Some surprise was felt, however, that he should pre- 
sent himself at such an hour without invitation. The 
chamberlain on duty even ventured to inform him 
that the breakfast hour was near and that the Em- 
peror and the Empress might appear at any moment. 
But Colonel de Gallitfet showed no signs of uneasi- 
ness and awaited events. Hearing at this instant 
some steps in the private apartments, he hid behind 
a screen, when suddenly the Emperor, the Empress 
and the Prince Imperial entered. While they were 
engaged in returning the salutations of those 
present, Galliffet, leaving his hiding place, on a sud- 
den stood before them, bowing low with all the grace 
he could master. “Ah, there is Galliffet!” both sov- 
ereigns exclaimed at the same time. “Where do you 
come from?” added the Emperor, smiling. The self- 
possessed officer made a suitable reply, with the 
spoilt child’s certitude of receiving a kind welcome, 
whereupon the Emperor remarked: “You are, of 
course, breakfasting with us,” and in went “the un- 
bidden guest” just as if he had received an invita- 

309 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


tion in due form. He was especially gay and talk- 
ative that morning and, as usual, was the soul of the 
table, which led the Emperor to whisper in his ear at 
the end of the repast: ‘•'Well, Colonel, unless some 
of my invited guests are a little more witty and 
loquacious, I am going to try how it goes to iq,vite 
nobody. ’ ’ 

The short war period of 1870 was sad at Saint 
Cloud. After the departure of the Emperor and 
Prince Imperial all became cahn and quiet. Now, as 
“Empress-Regent” Eugenie remained at the castle, 
in the company of her nieces. Admiral Jurien de la 
Graviere, the Emperor’s aide-de-camp, and the 
members of the household, following closely home 
and foreign events and impatiently awaiting news 
from the army. 

Admiral Jurien never left the Empress during 
those long days of trial and anxiety. Settled at Saint 
Cloud with his whole family, he was always at hand, 
and ready at the first call to fly to her side. Thus, on 
the evening of August 7th, when he learned that bad 
news from the front had reached the castle, and 
entered her apartments, he found the Empress with 
tears in her eyes and speechless, holding a telegram 
which Comte de Cosse Brissac, the chamberlain, had 
just deciphered. The fatal message bore the an- 
nouncement of the disasters at Forbach and Woerth. 
“The army is disbanded,” wrote the Emperor; “we 
must now raise our courage to the height of our mis- 
fortunes.” Crushed by the terrible news. Admiral 
Jurien said not a word. Then M. de Brissac brought 
the second part of the telegram attenuating in a 
certain degree the commencement: “All may yet be 
repaired.” A feeling of relief took possession of 

310 



COURT LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 


those present on reading these words, and I remem- 
ber that Eugenie exclaimed: “Thank God, we have 
yet some ground for hope.” 

The Empress immediately gave orders for the 
return to Paris. State papers, and all private 
articles of value were gathered together and the 
Court hastily settled at the TuUeries. The pictures 
and works of art which decorated the palace at Saint 
Cloud were transferred to the Louvre and the 
National Repository. Thanks to this wise measure, 
many precious canvases and artistic pieces of furni- 
ture were saved from the flames which destroyed the 
royal residence so soon afterwards. Among these 
were many objects of much price which once be- 
longed to Marie Antoinette and which had been care- 
fully collected. The Empress felt from the start that 
if matters turned badly on the frontier, the very 
existence of the regime was endangered, and so, with 
this always in mind during this crisis, the result was 
that many things of every kind that might other- 
wise have been lost to France were preserved, and 
the wreck of the private fortune, papers, and other 
matters of the Imperial family was far less than 
would otherwise have been the case. 

But to return to a happier phase of court life 
under the Second Empire and to another center of 
its existence, Fontainebleau, where, at the close of 
May, 1858, the Emperor and the Empress stayed for 
a time. It was a delightful rest after the January 
tragedy — ^the Orsini plot — and the complications 
with England which had arisen from the “Colonels’ 
Address” one of the unfortunate results of this ter- 
rible attempt on the Emperor’s life. 

311 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

The town of Fontainebleau welcomed the imperial 
couple with even more warmth than usual. At four 
in the evening the Emperor, the Prince Imperial 
and the Empress, entered the well decorated streets, 
accompanied by Queen Sophie of the Netherlands, 
the Prince Eoyal of Wurtemberg, Prince Napoleon, 
Princess Mathilde, Prince Alexander of the Nether- 
lands, Prince Nicolas of Nassau, Prince Joachim 
Murat, Comtesse de Montijo, the English Ambassa- 
dor and Lady Cowley, the Ministers of the Nether- 
lands and of Wurtomberg, and many other notabili- 
ties. It was a remarkable cavalcade in every respect 
and caused much favorable comment at the time. 
“A regime that can bring together such a brilliant 
throng,” remarked a Senator, “has the country and 
Europe behind it,” a statement which was unques- 
tionably true at this moment. 

On the following day, a country dance was given 
in one of the prettiest spots of the forest — ^young 
men and women dancing the Boulangere on a smooth 
green sward, strewn with spring flowers, to the 
music of the forest guides ; the next morning there 
was a stag hunt, and in the evening a torch-light 
procession in the Oval Court-yard, to which the pub- 
lic were admitted by the Porte Doree, the flne gate- 
way decorated with sculptures and frescoes through 
which Charles Quint passed ■when he came to "risit 
Francis I, and which the Emperor always pointed 
out to his guests as one of the most interesting ob- 
jects of the castle. At this fete the Emperor ap- 
peared on the balcony, with Queen Sophie on his 
arm, and was much acclaimed by the crowd. 

The Queen of the Netherlands and the Prince of 
"Wurtemberg soon left Fontainebleau, but the Court 

312 



COUET LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 


remained there three weeks longer. Distinguished 
guests belonging to the diplomatic corps and society, 
various members of the cabinet with their wives, and 
some of the members of the household came in turn 
to the castle, and though life was rather peaceful at 
Poiitainebleau and all were particularly bent that 
year in enjoying rest from the trials and emotions 
of the winter — still there were a goodly number of 
distractions and amusements of different kinds as 
always characterized the Court life of the Second 
Empire. “One of the first duties of a sovereign,” 
the Emperor used to say, “is to amuse his subjects 
of all ranks in the social scale. He has no more right 
to have a dull Court than he has to have a weak 
army or a poor navy.” 

At Fontainebleau long drives, and from time to 
time a hunt, were the chief distractions. Another 
favorite pastime of the sovereigns and their guests 
was paying impromptu visits to the artistic celeb- 
rities who were then found in such large numbers in 
and around the Fontainebleau forest. Thus one day 
Napoleon, with the Empress by his side, and driving 
a light carriage he liked to handle himself, stopped, 
before the house of the painter Decamps. The 
artist had been informed only a few minutes pre- 
viously of their coming and had hastily brought out 
the few canvases his studio then contained. The Em- 
peror took great interest in them and the sovereigns 
both warmly congratulated the talented painter on 
his beautiful work. Another day, the Empress 
visited the children’s home kept by nuns, and, after 
witnessing the games and exercises of the inmates, 
distributed cakes and sweets among the young peo- 
ple, much to their pleasure. Another time, the 

313 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Choral Society of Fontainebleau, composed of work- 
men, sang a cantata entitled the Imperial Hunt. The 
Emperor and the rest listened to the simple song, 
which was given in the English garden, congrat- 
ulated the singers and had champagne served to 
them. When the wine was poured, the Emperor 
raised his glass saying: “Gentlemen, let us drink to 
political and musical harmony,” and the workmen 
replied with loud cheering. Another afternoon, the 
Empress and her ladies took Rosa Bonheur by sur- 
prise, found her in her masculine attire, and praised 
her fine animal pictures. All these visits entertained 
the guests of the castle and rendered the Court very 
popular in the neighborhood. “When the Emperor 
comes,” said one of the mayors, “we, here in Fon- 
tainebleau, imagine that the Age of Louis XIV has 
returned.” 

Before leaving Fontainebleau this year, the Em- 
peror reviewed, as usual, the garrison troops, and 
decorated a few of the officers with the cross of the 
Legion of Honor. The town was again in gala 
dress on the day of our departure and then every- 
thing became calm once more in the quiet old place. 
“We will now go to sleep till next summer,” re- 
marked this same good old mayor, as he bade the 
Empress farewell. 

Fontainebleau was much entertained during the 
year 1861 by the arrival of the Persian and Siamese 
ambassadors. At that date Sultans and Shahs never 
came in person to European countries and about all 
that was known concerning them was what was 
found in the Arabian Nights. So when it was an- 
nounced that a Persian ambassador was coming to 
France, both the Emperor and the Empress thought 

314 



COUET LIFE DUEING THE EMPIEE 


that the occasion should not be lost to impress on 
this Oriental the grandeur of western civilization. 
The political effect of such an act could not be bad. 
The Emperor even suggested that the Empress also 
should be present at the official reception of the em- 
bass;f. Up to that time, she had never participated 
in ceremonies of this kind. This was a new depart- 
ure which interested her very much. It was decided 
that she should be in full Court dress, that she 
should be surrounded by all the ladies of the palace 
and that she should be decked out in the finest 
jewels. All this was done and a grand ceremony, 
which much impressed the embassy and which added 
much eclat to that season’s festivities at Fontaine- 
bleau, was the result. 

Shortly after the departure of the Persian ambas- 
sador, a Siamese embassy was announced to be on 
its way to Fontainebleau. It was decided that Na- 
poleon should receive this mission in the fine gal- 
lery of Henri II. Here was to be a fresh sensation, 
for which the Persian ceremony had whetted the 
Court appetite ; and when this curious body of en- 
voys reached the palace, they created a veritable won- 
der. Here was a group of individuals clothed in long 
silken robes and who looked as though they were 
carved out of a block of chocolate. They had in- 
formed the Court officials that they were bringing 
rich gifts from the King of Siam to the Emperor 
and that these gifts must be presented by them on 
their hands and knees. The Emperor at first re- 
quested that the kneeling formality be dispensed 
with, but when told that this would cause offence to 
the Siamese, he permitted them to have their own 
way. 


315 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

As at the reception of the Persian embassy, the 
Empress was again present, snrronnded by the 
Court ladies. The latter were informed by the Court 
officials, who knew the Siamese ways, to be very 
careful not to laugh at what they were to see. But 
this hint was unnecessary, for, as one of the ladies 
said truly after the ceremony, “when I saw those 
poor human beings creeping along the floor like 
grovelling beasts the sensation was so painful, that 
I am sure nobody present felt like laughing.” 

The unfortunate ambassador bore on his head a 
large golden cup containing rich presents. In order 
to advance, he would push himself forwards by the 
points of his elbows, somewhat aided by his knees. 
His progress was both slow and painful, and when 
he finally reached the throne, he was panting labori- 
ously and was evidently suffering from the eflects of 
these difficult physical efforts. When the Emperor 
saw this, he could stand it no longer, so quitting 
the throne and descending the steps, he aided the 
weary ambassador to rise, took from him the gifts 
and thaiaked him warmly. This put an end to a cere- 
mony that was as painful as it was original. That 
evening, the Emperor remarked in a small circle of 
friends: “There would be fewer courtiers here in 
France if that were the way in which they had to 
approach the throne. Perhaps that is why the king 
has introduced the custom in Siam!” 

The court’s three favorite residences, besides the 
Tuileries, were Saint Cloud, Fontainebleau and 
Compiegne. Of these charming spots, the first was 
the most convenient, being so near the capital, and 
its close association with the first Napoleon and the 

316 



COURT LIFE DURINO THE EMPIRE 


glories of tlie First Empire always made it especial- 
ly dear to Napoleon III. “I almost feel sometimes, 
as I walk these leafy alleys,” the latter once said, 
“that I am in direct communion with the great Em- 
peror. Anyway, I always receive inspiration here 
an^ return to the Tuilerios with a stronger will, a 
braver heart and a clearer conscience.” Fontaine- 
bleau was connected with too many sad events in 
Napoleonic history ever to he a perfectly restful 
place for the contemplative spirit of the Emperor, 
though the Empress was much attached to the grand 
forest and the many beautiful drives and walks of 
Denecourt. The Second Empire made quite its own 
the rather neglected castle and superb forest of 
Compiegne. Some of the most famous social and 
artistic events of the reign center there and a few 
souvenirs of Compiegne may he introduced in these 
pages. 

Amusing incidents are not infrequent in Court 
life, and the following is an instance of one of these. 
The guests of the palaces of Compiegne and Fon- 
tainebleau were often seen strolling round the ken- 
nels. On one occasion, at Compiegne, the Empress 
was accompanied by several other ladies, amongst 
whom was the Princess Metternich, the charming 
wife of the Austrian Am bassador, when she went to 
visit the hunting dogs. The Prince de la Moskowa 
was acting the part of host and presented his visi- 
tors with the traditional whips. It was with evident 
satisfaction that he called on them to admire the 
beauty and strength of his dogs: when, suddenly, 
one of Eugenie’s companions exclaimed: 

“Your fine dogs must have fleas, which they will 
surely pass on to us.” 


317 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


“No, Madame,” replied tlie famous master of the 
hounds; “my dogs are washed and brushed down 
every day ; you need not be alarmed, for they have 
no fleas.” 

They then questioned the Prince regarding the 
hygiene of the dogs, their breed, their swiftness of 
foot, and other details. While this conversation was 
going on, Mme. de Mettemich was roguishly em- 
ployed in hunting for a flea on one of the dogs’ 
heads ; and having found one, or pretending to have 
done so, she shyly slipped it into the collar of Prince 
de la Moskowa who, during the remainder of our 
visit, and much to our amusement, did not cease to 
worry about the tiresome insect, which in all prob- 
ability existed only in his imagination. 

It was the custom at Compiegne for each lady to 
choose the gentleman who was to escort her to the 
dining-room and sit by her side at table. This rule 
gave rise on one occasion to an amusing adventure 
of which Sainte-Beuve was the hero. 

A very intelligent and distinguished young lady. 
Mile, de Heeckeren, wishing to have the opportunity 
of enjoying the conversation of the famous critic 
who happened to be staying at Compiegne at the 
same time as herself, said to him one day, using the 
formula then in vogue at the castle: “Monsieur 
Sainte-Beuve, will you take me out to dinner to- 
morrow?” 

The author misunderstood her, or rather did not 
understand the request at all. He was not suffi- 
ciently conceited to imagine that the young woman 
had taken a fancy to him, and supposed the strange 
proposal was due to a mere woman’s caprice. He 
was quick to realize all the unpleasant consequences 

318 



COUET LIFE DUEING THE EMPIEE 


wMeh might arise from such a proceeding, the re- 
marks ■which might be made and the difficulty of find- 
ing in Compiegne an inn sufficiently remote to en- 
sure the absolute privacy which would be needed. In 
this dilemma, he finally decided to confide in Prin- 
cess Mathilde and ask her advice. The Princess 
laughed very heartily and esplained to him the 
nature of the service the young lady had requested 
— that she simply wished to be escorted out to the 
dining-room of the castle. 

“‘Well,” said the witty critic, joining in the laugh; 
“I thought I knew French, but I see I am unac- 
quainted with the Compiegne dialect.” 

The evenings in Compiegne were usually spent 
in chatting and dancing. The Emperor and the Em- 
press were always very careful to speak to all the 
guests irrespective of their rank, occupation, or age. 
Eugem’e was particularly careful to be attentive to 
the young, to those of both sexes, just entering 
society, and who can add such life and charm to 
Court circles. It was difficult to carry out this plan 
at the crowded Tuileries, during the busy Paris sea- 
son. But in the quieter life of Compiegne such was 
not the ease, and the Empress always made the most 
of this opportunity to draw nearer to the Court 
these future leaders of society. The Emperor ap- 
plauded and aided, in so far as possible, her efforts, 
which, I may say, were crowned with success, be- 
cause of the gentle nature of the young people and 
because of the naturalness of the plan. 

Sometimes, instead of dancing to the music of the 
mechanical piano, whose handle was turned by self- 
sacrificing guests — a good instance of the simple 
life which prevailed at Compiegne — ^the Empress 

319 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

would propose intellectual games of various kinds. 
She was especially fond of what are called “Little 
Papers,” and “Questions and Answers.” Clever 
writers like Octave FeuiUet, Sainte-Beuve, Meri- 
mee and Arsene Houssaye were pressed into these 
games and added greatly to the interest. One of 
the Court gives the following account : 

“I recall that one evening, when we were weary of 
the more customary games, some one proposed that 
a dictation he given, and care was taken to include in 
the phrases given out very hard words and all the 
little intricacies of French grammar and composi- 
tion. The number of mistakes was enormous and 
perhaps not the least curious feature of the trial was 
that Prince Metternich came off victor with fewer 
faults than anybody else. I do not now remember 
whether any of the writers just mentioned were 
present that evening and took part in the dictation. 
Probably not, however, though if my memory is not 
at fault, it was Sainte-Beuve who drew up the text 
of the dictation, read it out to the ‘pupils’ and then 
counted up the mistakes of each one. As one of his 
favorite theses was that foreigners often know 
French better than natives, this may account in part 
for the fine manner in which the Austrian diplomat 
passed through the ordeal. 

The afternoon or morning at Compiegne was 
sometimes given up to a hunt or to a drive through 
the beautiful forest to the famous castle of Pierre- 
fonds, which the Emperor was having restored, 
chiefiy with funds from his private purse, and where 
the Empress was bringing together a rather impor- 
tant collection of armor. After this hunt or drive, 
there was generally a gathering at the tea hour in 

320 



COURT LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 


the main salon, when some of the most delightful 
conversation I ever listened to — and I have heard 
much fine conversation since those far-off days — 
was indulged in. But brilliancy and instruction, 
scintillation and wit could only be expected from a 
gathering which was made up of such men as Augier 
and Arsene Houssaye, with Alfred de Vigny and 
Ponsard in reserve, perhaps; where Victor Duruy, 
Labiche and Paul Feval vied with one another to be 
interesting; where the learning and wit of Edmond 
About, Pasteur, J. B. Dumas and Leverrier shone 
brightly; while such geniuses in different fields of 
culture as Gounod, Meyerbeer, Hebert, Gerome, Am- 
broise Thomas and a score of other similar celebri- 
ties, filled the drawing-rooms with their music or 
their brilliant comments on all the fine arts. All 
these and many more remarkable men and women 
passed through the salons of that old Compiegne 
palace, which was so musty and dead when the Sec- 
ond Empire was established. They chatted and dis- 
cussed the various topics of the day. I can never 
forget those hours and the magnificent intellectual 
tournaments which then took place. 

The palace of Compiegne had no theater previous 
to 1832 , though the original plans of the architect 
Gabriel contemplated such a room. But Louis XV 
had never carried out this part of the plan. When 
Princess Louise, oldest daughter of Louis Philippe, 
was married to Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 
Compiegne was selected as the spot where the cere- 
mony should take place, and a theater was impro- 
vised on a tennis-court situated at the northern ex- 
tremity of the palace. It is a long, square-shaped 
room with many side seats. It was not much used 

321 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


under Louis PMlippe, but during the Second Em- 
pire, on the contrary, plays were given there nearly 
every year from 1852 to 1859, totalling nearly fifty 
representations, in which were seen the troupes of 
the leading theaters of Paris, and especially that of 
the French Theater. The invitations were for eight 
o’clock, and the play commenced a half hour later, 
as soon as the Emperor and the Empress had taken 
their seats in two arm-chairs placed in the front of 
the Imperial box. This box stretched the whole 
width of the room and was preceded by a first bal- 
cony to which were exclusively admitted ladies in 
low-necked dresses. The guests and officers of the 
household invited to the Imperial box numbered 
some seventy or more. The first boxes above the 
balcony and Imperial box were filled with guests 
from the town and neighborhood. The second row 
of boxes was occupied chiefly by the serving people 
of the castle. The pit was reserved for officers of all 
grades up to, and including that of, captain. The 
space back of the pit up to the Imperial box was 
given up to judges, members of the departmental 
legislatures and officers above the rank of captain. 

When the Emperor and the Empress entered the 
theater, everybody rose and remained standing until 
they were seated. Then the play began. During the 
intermissions, ices, punch, syrups, were offered to 
the guests by footmen in full livery, and at one of 
these intermissions, the Emperor and the Empress 
would retire to the little salon opening out from the 
Imperial box, where they would receive and congrat- 
ulate the leading actors and actresses of the evening. 
The play ended about half past eleven, when they 
would bow and withdraw. A fine supper was offered 

322 



COUET LIFE DUEING THE EMPIEE 


to the troupe of actors who took a train about two 
o’clock in the morning for Paris, an hour or two 
away. Besides being paid, all the members of the 
troupe were invited to dine at the palace, those in 
the Legion of Honor being admitted to the Em- 
peror’s table, and the others to the table of the 
commander of the palace. The rate of the actors’ 
fees was based on the highest sum they could make 
at Paris. The success of the plays at Compiegne 
depended on many circumstances. It sometimes 
happened that actors got an attack of stage fright 
when brought face to face with this special audience 
and did very poorly. Again, there was some cold- 
ness in the audience, as the spectators waited for us 
to lead in the applause. Of course, there was no 
claque. 

We had also amateur theatricals at Compiegne, 
the actors being the guests at the palace. These 
plays were not given in the theater just described, 
but in a large room of the palace, where a temporary 
stage was put up. The costumes were borrowed 
from the State wardrobe. The stage manager of 
these private theatricals was M. Violet-le-Due, the 
famous architect who restored Pierrefonds and 
other celebrated ruins of Prance, whose society I 
always greatly enjoyed. I am sorry to say that in 
later life he seemed to forget his old benefactors, in 
which respect, however, he was only human, for I 
have often remarked that those in high places are 
far more apt to turn their backs on friends who have 
fallen from power, than are those of the more 
humble walks in life. How many of the faithful 
domestics of the Imperial residences remained 

323 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


ardent supporters of the Empire to the very end of 
their modest existence ! 

On one or two occasions, the Empress took part 
herself in these private theatricals. I well remember 
her acting in Octave PeuiUet’s Portraits of the 
Marchioness when she played with Comte d’Andlau. 
Another souvenir of these histrionic matters 'de- 
serves to be recorded here. I recollect that at one of 
the last Monday evening receptions of 1865, the Em- 
press was chatting with Princess Metternich, when 
the former said to her; “You should ask Massa to 
write a play for Compiegne, in which you would 
have the principal part.” Eugenie knew how much 
this fascinating woman loved the amateur stage, and 
she was not surprised, therefore, to find that 
the Princess immediately seized upon the sugges- 
tion with enthusiasm, and a few days later, while the 
iron was still hot, she succeeded in gettiug the Mar- 
quis de Massa to set to work on a piece that went off 
with flying colors and in which the Princess cov- 
ered herself with glory. I remember, that the young 
Prince Imperial had a few verses to recite at one 
point in the play. He got them off with considerable 
merit, but was quite confused by the bursts of ap- 
plause, which, fortunately for the success of his 
part, did not occur until he had quite fimished all he 
had to say. I was told at the time that when he left 
the stage and got behind the scenes, he exclaimed in 
a tone of voice and in a manner that showed he could 
not understand what the tremendous marks of ap- 
proval meant: "Did that noise mean that they had 
had enough of me?” This modest question provoked 
a laugh among some of the courtier-actors and 
actresses, which only confused the boy-prince still 

324 



COURT LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 


more. It showed, however, an innate trait of his 
beautiful character, — ^he never considered what he 
said or did to have any special merit. He was so 
when a mere child, as a growing lad and as a young 
TTirni. If he could have succeeded in escaping the ter- 
ribly attacks of those pitiless savages, he would 
never have felt that he had been a hero, though, as 
events showed, he died one. 

There is a rather amusing anecdote connected 
with this play of Massa’s which deserves to be re- 
lated, I think, and of which the Emperor is the hero. 
During the intermission, the Emperor went behind 
the scenes and in the green room met Generals Mel- 
linet and de Galliffet so excellently disguised that 
he took them for real troopers. He asked Massa who 
those soldiers were, and got the reply: “Your Maj- 
esty, they are supernumeraries, — one from the 99th 
regiment at Compiegne, and the other from the In- 
valides.” Thereupon, the Emperor, with his cus- 
tomary kindness toward inferiors, went over to the 
two men to say a few words to them. The supposed 
infantry man who had his back turned to the Em- 
peror and saw in a mirror what was happening, 
turned quickly on his sovereign, and as if he mistook 
him for some private from his own regiment, ex- 
claimed roughly: “What do you want?” Then, pre- 
tending to have just at that moment discovered his 
mistake, he added in a most humble tone: “Pray 
excuse me, sire !” It was now the Emperor’s turn to 
be astonished, when he recognised Galliffet, and left 
him, much amused to speak to the supposed “In- 
valids,” whom he quickly saw was no other than 
Mellinet. Then, turning to Massa, the Emperor 
said: “Mr. Stage-Manager, I want to congratulate 

325 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


you on your choice of supernumeraries, and I feel 
very proud that you should have taken the very men 
whom I had selected as the best for ofScerships in 
the army. I see now that I made no mistake ! ” In 
fact, the Emperor was so much pleased with this 
play of Massa’s that he sent him a copy of Jnlius 
CcEsar, with this inscription on the fly-leaf: “From 
the commentator of Cassar, to Caesar’s commentator. 
Napoleon.” 

There were also charades at the castle, the chief 
authors of these being Ponsard and Alberic Second. 
The ladies of court appeared in magnificent cos- 
tumes. In several charades the Prince Imperial took 
part with some of his young friends. Two of these 
charades were particularly liked, — one, written by 
Ponsard, and entitled Harmony, in which the Prince 
figured as Cupid, and another, Fourhu, by Alberic 
Second, in which the Prince also appeared along 
with his boy-companions and in which they declare 
to the public that they are all “fourbus,” that is 
tired out, after a long ride to hounds. The good 
Bachon, the Prince’s equerry, was much distressed 
by this charade, for he could not admit that his 
pupil, who was already a very fair horseman, could 
ever be "fourbu” after a ride to hounds ! “But this 
was only an imaginary hunt,” said somebody to con- 
sole him. “Yes, but there are those in the Paris 
press who will say that it was a real hunt,” replied 
the excellent man, who had a perfect horror of the 
journalists of the Second Empire. 

A minor part was given to the Prince Imperial in 
still another charade, one written in verse for the 
Emperor’s birthday. Madame Conneau had taken 
upon herself to teach the child his lines and he was 

326 



COURT LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 

never tired of repeating them. It was arranged be- 
tween Madame Connean, who was in the charade, 
and the Prince, that when his turn came she would 
press his hand twice so that he would make no mis- 
take. At the right place, this prearranged sign was 
give|jf, but the Prince said nothing. It was repeated 
three times, but the Prince was absolutely silent, and 
the curtain had to go down without his having 
spoken. The Prince was so ashamed of the blunder 
that he asked to be given another trial, and the cur- 
tain went up again. But when the place was reached 
where he should speak, he quite forgot his lines, and 
called out with some irritation and with considerable 
justice, some of us thought: “Is there no 
prompter?” The managers of these charade parties 
took the hint, and from that time on, a prompter was 
always at hand, much to the comfort of the adult 
actors. I may add that this breakdown did not dis- 
courage the acting proclivities of the Prince Im- 
perial, for here as in everything else that he under- 
took, he tried again and again, and in the end be- 
came a very creditable amateur actor. 

This taste for charades and tableaux, which was 
so marked during the Second Empire and which was 
given full vent to at Fontainebleau as well as at 
Compiegne, caused some unjust criticism at the 
time; and since, several critics have made state- 
ments which were as scandalous as untrue. What 
the Empress thought of these strictures and what 
was the effect they had on her is well told in a letter 
written about that time to a friend which has since 
been shown to me. I cannot do better than tran- 
scribe it here. It runs as follows : 

“In July, 1860, 1 could not hide a certain feeling 

327 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

of sadness on this account. I had just returned from 
Fontainebleau, where I had been suffering from a 
slight chest attack. I am apt to be very lenient 
towards malevolence which has not hatred as its 
motive. When by chance I meet on the journey 
through life people who look for evil where il; does 
not exist, and who tear their neighbors to pieces 
without object or cause, this makes me very sad, and 
I say to myself: ‘How bad a person must be who 
tries to break the hearts of those who hold out their 
hands to him; for not only are the blows felt, but 
mistrust takes the place of every other sentiment 
and even our friendships are undermined.’ This is 
why I was so sad during the last days at Fontaine- 
bleau. That innocent charade, unmasked in the 
newspapers with details which must come from one 
of those present; to see oneself handed over to the 
malicious publicity of political parties and public 
curiosity, and this by a friend, or, at any rate, by a 
guest, — this is a thing I cannot get used to. I would 
sum up my feelings in these words : My enemies will 
always find me ready to face them; but can I say as 
much for my friends? Add to this the very natural 
anxiety which I felt concerning my sister’s health, 
which thanks to God is better, and you will under- 
stand why I gave way to melancholy, against which, 
however, I always strive to have the upper hand in 
so far as possible. ’ ’ 

Though the Emperor never cared very much for 
sports of any kind, he fully recognized the impor- 
tance of encouraging hunting at the Imperial Court, 
and, while the Empress, too, was not an adept in this 
sort of distraction, she shared his views on the sub- 
ject, so that both lent their warmest support to mak- 

328 



COUET LIFE DUEING THE EMPIEE 


ing this feature of court life worthy of the regime. 
I do not think I exaggerate when I state that the 
Imperial hunts of the Second Empire were never 
surpassed in France under the monarchy and were 
not inferior in good style to those of any other Euro- 
pean court. More than once I heard this said by the 
royal guests, and the same thing was repeated, with 
less probability of being done out of compliment, 
by our own ambassadors and military attaches, who, 
having taken part in the hunts of the various Euro- 
pean courts, were in a good position to speak with 
authority. 

The Imperial hunting equipage generally re- 
mained nine months at Fontainebleau and three 
months at Compiegne, with occasional meets in the 
forests of Saint Germain, Eambouillet, Ourscamp, a 
few miles from Compiegne, Villefemoy and Marly. 
The Fontainebleau meets were not so weU attended 
as those of Compiegne, because of the season of the 
year when they were held, — ^the first two thirds of 
the year. The Compiegne season was the autumn. 

On meet days, the huntsmen of various grades 
started out early in the morning in undress uniform, 
and their three-cornered hats, to look over the 
ground and let loose the animals. This done, they 
stationed woodsmen to guard the enclosures and 
then returned to the meeting-place, wither had pre- 
ceded them the wagons bringing food and luggage 
of all kinds. After a hasty breakfast, the huntsmen 
attired themselves in full uniform and reported to 
the master of the hounds, who had arrived in the 
meanwhile with the pack. The dogs were in charge 
of the footmen of the hounds and were coupled 
according to age and experience. All was ready now 

329 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


for tlie reception of the Imperial household and the 
guests. 

A meet at the King’s Well, in the forest of Com- 
piegne, was a picturesque and grand sight. At this 
open point, which is in the center of the forest, 
ended eight magnificent alleys, which were pierced 
through a plantation of superb oak trees during the 
reign of Francis I. In one of these alleys used to be 
drawn up the carriages of those invited to the hunt. 
In the open were the saddle-horses of the Emperor, 
the Prince Imperial and the Empress, along with 
those of the officers of the household, guests, hunts- 
men, and grooms. After these came the hunting 
equipage, — ^the dogs with their footmen, the officers 
of the hunt and the grand master of the hunt, who 
had just received the report. The sovereigns gen- 
erally arrived at the meet at noon in drags and were 
received by the various officials with uncovered 
heads. After saying a word or two to the principal 
2Dersons of the group, the Emperor and the Empress 
would mount, and a moment afterwards the order 
was given to begin. Thereupon, the whole cavalcade 
started forth, the huntsman at the head. Directly 
after them, rode the sovereigns, guests, the house- 
holds and the officers of the garrison where the hunt 
was given. Guests who were not in the habit of rid- 
ing horseback drove in drags or seated in large 
pleasure vans harnessed like coaches. The caval- 
cade made a most striking impression, especially on 
one occasion when, I remember, we had as principal 
guests, a large body of Algerian chiefs who rode 
beautiful Arab horses, and of courae rode them 
superbly. I think the Emperor was more interested 
in watching these splendid horsemen than in follow- 

330 



COUET LIFE DUEING THE EMPIEE 

ing the incidents of the hunt. At least, I know the 
Empress was. After dinner that evening, at the pal- 
ace, they complimented the Algerians on their fine 
equestrianism. We were all pleased, and I must say 
that I was deeply touched, by their characteristic 
resjgonse, so modest and so simple: “There is noth- 
ing equal to the Arab steed!” They gave all the 
credit to their horses! 

At all the open spaces in the forest were sta- 
tioned, during a hunt, forest guards, in full uniform, 
which consisted of French-cut green coats, green 
knickerbockers, high yellow gaiters, pointed hats 
and a hunting knife. The Emperor, attired in hunt- 
ing costume, would gallop through the grand alleys 
and follow the hunt in this wise, avoiding the more 
complicated course through the trees and under- 
brush, which, however, is not very thick in our state 
forest preserves. The sovereigus were accompanied 
by their households, and often by Prince Napoleon 
who, notwithstanding a tendency to obesity, seemed 
to enjoy the chase. Prince Murat, with his sister 
Princess Anna Murat (the Duchesse de Mouchy) 
were often among the principal guests. Prominent, 
too, were the “Buttons,” that is, those who were au- 
thorized to attend the hunt in a specially decorated 
uniform. This distinction was conferred by an offi- 
cial letter from the grand master of the himt, and 
with this letter was sent a box containing the number 
of buttons necessary for the decoration of a hunting 
costume, and an extra one for the hat. Hence the ex- 
pression “to have the buttons,” and the familiar 
name “the buttons,” applied to all those who wore 
the imperial hunting costume. This honor was, of 
course, much sought after, and in this connection, 

331 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

the English game of “Button, button, who’s got the 
button?” used to be played sometimes at Compiegne 
in an ironical spirit. The aides-de-camp and equer- 
ries had the right to wear the buttons and it was also 
conferred on any officer of the military and civil 
households who requested it. The Due de Bassano, 
the Due de Cambaceres, and several chamberrains 
who, for one reason or another, generally followed 
the hunt in drags, also had the honor of wearing 
this uniform. It was also conferred on some of the 
ministers and on two or three members of the diplo- 
matic corps. Among the latter, I especially recall 
the British ambassador. Lord Cowley, and the Aus- 
trian ambassador, Prince Metternich, both of whom 
looked very well in this showy attire. Among the 
ladies who assumed the costume, none appeared to 
greater advantage than that exceedingly fascinating 
woman, the late Comtesse de Boulaincourt, daughter 
of one of our great favorites, the Marshal de Cas- 
tellano. The fact that she was an excellent horse- 
woman and scarcely ever missed a hunt made the 
conferring of the honor all the more appropriate. 
A conspicuous figure at the hunts was the painter 
Jardin, who mingled business with pleasure in a 
most charming fashion, for it was while following 
the hounds that he got the ideas for those fine pic- 
tures of our imperial hunts which made him famous 
during the Second Empire. These canvases are 
very interesting to-day, as they have preserved for 
future generations many typical scenes in French 
social life that would otherwise have perished. 

The uniform referred to a paragraph or two 
above, was composed of a French-cut green coat, 
with wide collar and trinaming in crimson velvet and 

332 



COURT LIFE DURING THE EMPIRE 

hunting braids of gold and silver. The braided 
■waistcoat was crimson velvet also, and the knicker- 
bockers were of white kid, while the three-cornered 
hat, popularly called “lampion,” was set off with 
black feathers. The necktie and gloves were white. 
The sovereigns’ costumes were somewhat similar. 
The^lmperor wore white feathers in his hat and the 
star of the Legion of Honor on his breast. The 
Empress was attired in a habit whose bodice was of 
green cloth, the collar and trimmings of crimson 
velvet, with braid on the collar, and the pockets 
adorned with Brandebourg trimming. Her skirt was 
of green cloth without braid, and her three-cornered 
hat was ornamented ■with white feathers. All these 
pretty and varied costumes, ■with the gorgeous uni- 
forms of some of the officers, formed an ensemble 
which produced a most striking effect, and once seen 
was not soon forgotten. The memory of these beau- 
tiful scenes sometimes rushes back on me at the most 
unexpected moments, and one of the most vivid 
recollections I have of those past days is a superb 
hunt at Fontainebleau, where nature with leaf and 
odor added its charm to the general scheme. The 
Empress had many curious recollections of the Com- 
piegne hunts. Here is one, for example, which I 
know not just why, always clung to her mind. One 
morning, a deer was driven into the Saint Louis 
pond in a picturesque part of the forest and the 
day’s sport was considered at an end. At this very 
moment, greatly to the surprise of everybody, an- 
other deer, pursued by the hounds of M. de Lubersac 
and M. de Chenelles, took refuge in this same pond 
and was there dispatched. The sovereigns felici- 

333 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


tated the hunters on their skill and they were invited 
to join the Imperial party. 

Every precaution was taken at these meets to 
prevent accidents, which were so liable to occur in 
such a large concourse of men and beasts. But dur- 
ing the whole empire, we had to deplore very few 
serious casualties, thanks to a careful choice of 
horses and servitors, and to the excellent general 
arrangements for these hunts. But it was of course 
inevitable that mishaps should occur sometimes. 
One of these unfortunate incidents has remained in- 
delibly imprinted on my memory. It occurred at a 
farm where there was a crush of huntsmen and 
huntswomen, when the deer turned suddenly on the 
dogs which caused great confusion, in the midst of 
which M. Achille Pould, minister of finance, was 
hurt; M. Delarue, chief guard, was thrown and his 
horse killed, while the horse of Mme. Thayer took 
fright, plunged into Princess Mathilde’s carriage in 
such a way as to severely wound Mme. Thayer’s 
foot, so that the unfortunate lady had to be carried 
back to Paris by special train. 

On another occasion, the Emperor’s life was in 
danger. He used sometimes himself to put an end 
to the suffering of the deer that had been brought to 
bay. He was a good shot, but often got too near the 
animal, which once rushed at him. He escaped by 
quickly bending down low and the infuriated beast 
sprang over the Emperor ’s body. The Empress wit- 
nessed this scene and naturally had a great fright. 
I also recall how in the Fontainebleau forest Baron 
Lambert’s left arm was pierced clean through by 
the antler of a wounded deer that charged on the 
unfortunate hunter. Doctor Aubin de Fougerais, 

334 



COUET LIFE DURINa THE EMPIRE 


•who "was present at every meet, a very fine rider and 
very fond of horses, broke his leg at a Compiegne 
hunt and ever after'vvards ■was forced, to his infinite 
regret, to folloAV the hounds in a carriage. I might 
enumerate several other accidents of this kind, but 
as P have already said, these were very rare con- 
sidering the frequency of the hunts and the large 
field. 

Contemporaries have left many -writings concern- 
ing the hunts ; but these accounts are not always to 
be depended upon. This remark is especially true 
of a spiteful book signed ‘ ‘ Sylvanecte ’ ’ and written 
by a woman who certainly was not acquainted with 
the society which she attempted to describe. Its 
title was La Cour a Compiegne and the author was 
said to be the daughter of one of the forest general 
guards. I have become hardened to unjust criticism, 
but this volume contains falsehoods to which the 
reply can be only a shrug of the shoulders. Perhaps 
the best and most truthful picture of hunting at 
Compiegne is given in a little-known book with the 
somewhat strange title of Confidences d^un Valet de 
CJiambre which was printed anonymously. 

The division of the spoils took place in the eve- 
ning. At Fontainebleau, the ceremony occurred in 
the Oval Courtyard and at Compiegne, in the Court 
of Honor. It was conducted with great style, ac- 
cording to the old traditions of royal hunts. The 
Emperor and the Empress went, after dinner, to the 
large vestibule in the center of the palace and took 
her stand on the balcony of the middle -window, 
while the guests appeared at the other windows to 
•witness the torch-light procession and the other 
sights. On either side of the courtyard stood the 

335 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


footmen in full dress, their hair powdered and 
partly hidden under feathered hats, holding lighted 
torches in their hands. Behind them, forming a liv- 
ing background, were massed the inhabitants of the 
town, who greatly enjoyed these ceremonies. 

The dogs now entered upon the scene. The "'por- 
tions of the deer’s body, the quarry, which were to 
be given to them were hidden under the animal’s 
skin, while the huntsman displayed to the eager 
hounds the head of the animal. Then the horns 
sounded and their notes were mingled with the yelp- 
ing of the impatient dogs. Twice the whip fell and 
the animals rushed to the prostrate body of the dead 
deer. Then the whip was raised and the growling 
dogs were forced to draw back. But at length the 
hallali, or whoop, sounded and the huntsmen pulled 
off the skin, when the dogs with a furious barking 
flung themselves upon the feast of meat, fighting 
and biting in an inextricable heap. The huntsmen 
and footmen stood by, whip in hand, in order to pre- 
vent the fighting from becoming too serious, while 
the horns, at the far end of the court, sounded the 
stirring airs of the chase. The whole scene was most 
moving, picturesque and not soon to be forgotten. I 
never hear these horns now, at some dog-show or 
over the fields from some distant hunt, that I am not 
carried immediately back to those closing hours of 
these fine imperial hunts forty years or more ago.” 



CHAPTEE Xm 


COTJKT BNa?ERTAINMENTS 

Though the more frivolous side of life may have 
monopolized most of the time and attention of the 
Court, especially at Saint Cloud, Fontainebleau and 
above all at Compiegne, still serious things were not 
wholly neglected. Polities occupied much attention, 
particularly that of the Emperor and the ministers ; 
nor were the demands of religion overlooked. The 
church was never forgotten in the midst of the 
festivities of Court life, and the Emperor, and the 
Prince Imperial as he grew older, earnestly sec- 
onded Eug'enie’s acts in this direction. Though 
Xapoleon III may have been more or less Voltairian 
at moments and in the company of men, still, as a 
monarch of an officially Catholic nation, he recog- 
nized thoroughly the necessity of performing, at 
least publicly, all that the rules and ceremonies of 
Home demanded. 

Mass was said at noon every Sunday in the chapel 
at the Tuileries, both sovereigns being present at 
the service in state, accompanied by their suites, the 
gentlemen in uniform, the ladies in walking cos- 
tumes. On ordinary Sundays, the Court occupied 
the gallery opposite the altar. On certain special 
occasions, and during Lent, for example, the Em- 
peror, the Empress, and Court were in the lower part 
of the chapel on red velvet seats with devotional 

337 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

chairs before them. The clergy were in the habit of 
going to the door to receive “the sovereigns” and 
the nsher announced their arrival by exclaiming in 
a loud voice: “The Emperor.” 

The Emperor was always very strict in his de- 
meanor during the service, being careful to ky.eel 
at those parts of the ceremony where the women 
kneel, but where the men usually remain standing. 
The sermon generally lasted about half an hour, and 
the pulpit was frequently filled by celebrated ora- 
tors, among whom Abbe Bauer, a brilliant convert 
to Catholicism who preached several courses of 
Lenten sermons, was particularly liked by the Em- 
peror and the Empress. His easy flow of language 
and his earnest manner were much appreciated at 
Court. At the end of the more strictly religious part 
of the service, excellent music was often executed 
with the aid of several harps. 

After Mass, the Emperor and the Empress 
usually stopped a few moments in the gallery 
attached to the chapel, when the former would con- 
verse with some of the officers who were waiting 
there, and the latter would give brief audiences in 
the blue salon just off the chapel. But both of them 
were adverse to this custom, as they never liked to 
mingle religious observances with mundane affairs. 
So only the most intimate friends had audiences at 
the chapel. 

Another phase of the daily life at the Tuileries, 
but very different from the one just touched upon, 
may he mentioned here — that pertaining to the man- 
agement and general condition of the Imperial 
stables; for the character of this. side of a Court 
often gives a fair idea of the prevailing spirit. 

338 



COUET ENTEETAINMENTS 


Horses and carriages count for muoli in a well-or- 
ganized monarcliy. 

The Empress used the same carriages as the Em- 
peror, berlins, barouches and wurts. In the latter 
years of the Empire, Eugenie had what she called 
her •‘wall-carriage” because she could shut herself 
up in it as if surrounded by a wall. It was a deep 
blue landau, without any arms emblazoned on the 
panels, and was drawn by two fine horses. The men 
on the box wore mastic-colored coats, and top- 
boots. It was in this vehicle that the Empress used 
to make her incognito visits to hospitals, charitable 
institutions and exhibitions of all kinds. 

Eugenie had also a chaise which she drove 
when she was at Saint Cloud or other summer and 
autumn residences. This carriage was drawn either 
by two English ponies. Dove and Vingt Mars, which 
had been purchased for ten thousand francs in Lon- 
don, or by two little thoroughbred mares, Isaure and 
Helene. 

The riding stables were under the supervision of 
Baron de Pierres, the equerry, who was a first-rate 
horseman. He had kept race-horses, rode very well, 
was eminently clever in the management of large 
^tables, and, withal was very amiable, much liked 
and highly esteemed by everybody. During the first 
years of the Empire, he was the Empress’ only 
equerry and came to report each day at noon, at the 
same time as the grand mistress, the lady in waiting, 
the grand master, the_reader, the private secretary 
and the librarian. If the Empress remained at the 
palace or went out unescorted, he was free till next 
day; but if she drove in the barouche, he escorted 
her, riding at the right of the carriage. In the eve- 

339 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

rung lie came to dine at the imperial table. He wore 
the same costume as the Emperor’s equerries so far 
as embroidery was concerned, but his coat was pale 
blue. 

Baron de Pierres had property in the west of 
France and was very popular in those parts, where 
he was constantly elected deputy duriug the last 
half of the Second Empire. Being unable, in con- 
sequence, to perform his Court duties with the same 
degree of assiduity as in the early days of the Em- 
pire, he asked to have an assistant equerry; so the 
Marquis de la Grange then passed from the Em- 
peror’s service to that of the Empress, and Baron 
de Pierres became first equerry. 

When the Empress rode, she was always accom- 
panied by Baron de Pierres and his wife, who was 
one of her ladies in waiting, and rode remarkably 
well. Eugenie greatly enjoyed horseback riding, 
especially when in the country, when she generally 
sought out sequestered lanes where the rules of 
etiquette could be wholly forgotten and the beauties 
of nature fully appreciated. 

Her chief huntsman was M. Guyot, honorable 
and excellent man, and a very good rider, who had 
been in Louis Philippe’s stables, and who remained 
in the service until 1870. He wore the same cos- 
tume as the outriders of the Emperor, and only fol- 
lowed the Empress at reviews and hunts, accom- 
panied by two grooms of the suite. 

Eugenie’s stables contained a score of horses, — 
among which were Phoebus, Chevreuil, an excellent 
hunter, and Langewicz and Elastic, which were her 
favorites. Several horses were reserved for the 
ladies of the palace, — ^Baroness de Pierres, Oom- 

340 



COCJET ENTERTAINMENTS 

tesse de la Bedoyere, Mme. de Lourmel and Com- 
tesse de Rayneval, — or for the ladies invited to Fon- 
tainebleau and Compiegne. The horses ridden by 
the equen-ies, huntsmen and followers generally 
were all thoroughbred or very nearly so. In a word, 
grefet attention was paid by both the Emperor and 
the Empress to everything pertaining to the stables, 
and it was generally admitted, I believe, that the 
carriages and horses of the Second Empire sur- 
passed everything that had been seen in France 
since the days of the old regime and the First Em- 
pire, for neither during the Bourbon Restoration 
nor the Orleans Monarchy had much attention been 
paid by the Chief of State to this part of the royal 
establishment. 

The Emperor and the Empress always gave their 
personal attention to the balls both at the Tuileries 
and at the chief ministerial palaces. They so acted 
both for social and political reasons. Much can 
be done in France through the medium of a polite 
and artistic State ball. The Emperor once remarked 
with a smile : “Somebody has said : ‘Let me write 
the songs of a nation and the rest will take care 
of itself.’ I would add : “Let me conduct the danc- 
ing in Paris and I will be willing to leave the songs 
to the poetasters of Montmartre.” It may be in- 
teresting, therefore, to touch here upon some of 
these festivities. 

The ball given at the Foreign Affairs Office in 
1857 created a great sensation. Stories recall vividly 
some of the details. Count Walewski, minister of 
Foreign Affairs, I am told, was costumed as a 
statesman of the old regime, wearing a black velvet 
coat decorated with jet, and a blue cordon. Coun- 

341 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


tess Walewska, his wife, appeared as Diana the 
Huntress, clothed in a tiger skin with a diamond 
crescent on her head, a how in her hand, and, on 
her shoulder, a quiver filled with golden arrows. A 
great number of pretty women, most of them be- 
longing to the official world, were present, attired in 
rich and varied costiimes. 

Thus, Princess Czartoryska, daughter of Queen 
Christine and the Duke of Eianzares, was dressed 
as a bourgeoise of the time of Louis XVI, wearing 
a Necker hat. Mme. Serrano, wife of the Spanish 
ambassador, was in a costume of the middle ages, 
while Princess Mathilde wore a blue lampas dress. 
Princess Joachim Murat represented a marchioness 
of the old regime. Lady Cowley was a Queen Anne, 
and Baroness von Seebach, wife of the Minister of 
Saxony and daughter of Chancellor Nesselrode, was 
dressed as a Eussian boyard lady of the days of the 
Czar Peter. She wore a dress made of cloth of gold, 
splendid furs and many precious stones. Mile. 
Magman was in a hunting costume of the time of 
Louis XV ; my mother, Mme. Pleury, simulated a 
lady of the court of Marie Antoinette ; Mme. Taigny 
was an elegant pearl-gray bat, while Princess Calli- 
machi, wife of the Ottoman ambassador, was a Ma- 
rie de Medicis. 

Comtesse de Brigode, who became later Baronesse 
de Poilly, the daughter of the Marquis de Hallay- 
Coetquen, was one of the most remarked among the 
ladies at this ball. She appeared in the costume of 
an Indian amazon. Her long hair fell from under 
a panther’s head and covered a red morocco bodice 
worn over gauze skirts embroidered with leaves and 
flowers fringed with birds’ feathers. Another lady 

342 



COUET ENTERTAINMENTS 


attracted much, attention, the then fashionable 
beauty, Comtesse de Castiglione, who was dressed 
as Queen of Hearts, a costume which she considered 
sjunbolical of the innumerable men whom she had 
captivated. 

Many of the men wore dominoes ; some, however, 
were costumed. M. de Vatimesnil appeared as 
Charles IX, in a velvet and gold coat ; Count Olympe 
Aguado looked striking and important as Walla- 
chian; Viscomte de Bresson wore a Spanish cos- 
tume; Comte Armand was a musketeer of the time 
of Louis XV ; and Baron de Chassiron was attired 
as a Valois courtier. 

Another remarkable figure at this ball was a rag 
picker, who was, however, very elegant in his white 
satin vest, knickerbockers, and pink stockings. On 
his back he carried a gilt basket filled with gardenias 
and camelias, in his right hand a silver hook and in 
the left hand a lighted lantern. This was Diogenes’ 
lantern. The rag picker noticed a blue domino walk- 
ing slowly about the room, whom he recognized as 
the Emperor. Approaching him he said: “I was 
seeking an honest man; I have found him;” and im- 
mediately blew out the lantern. This witty flatterer 
was a young diplomatist, Comte Amelot de Chail- 
lou, who later had a brilliant career. 

It was known that the Empress was at the ball, 
but nobody could discover how she was disguised. 
Some of the guests thought that two dominoes seat- 
ed in a salon near the ball-room were Eugenie and 
Comtesse Gustave de MontabeUo, one of her ladies. 
But this was a mistake. However, Baron de St. 
Amand, who was costumed as one of Marie Antoi- 
nette’s pages, offered his services to the supposed 

343 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Empress and went in search of all the persons whom 
she desired to talk to, among these being various 
diplomatists, General Kheredine, then the envoy of 
the Bey of Tunis, and General Canrobert. Towards 
the end of the evening, however, these two dominoes 
suddenly disappeared. But at supper, a Bobemian, 
whose face was half hidden by a mask, was fo^nd 
to be the Empress when she cast off her domino. 

There were four official masked balls in Paris in 
1859 — at the Tuileries, at the State Minister’s, at 
the Foreign Affairs, and at the palace of the Presi- 
dent of the Legislative Body. All these functions 
were brilliant and created much comment of various 
kinds at the time. The invited guests were selected 
with great care, the Emperor and the Empress with 
all the Court attended. They made it a point to aid 
in so far as possible to make these affairs a great 
success. 

A word about the ball of the Foreign Affairs. 
Nobody at the time ever understood why the Em- 
press preferred the gatherings there to those held 
elsewhere outside of the Tuileries. The reason was 
very simple. When masked balls were given at the 
Foreign Office, the minister’s cabinet was adorned 
with silk materials and transformed into a boudoir, 
and here it was that she put on her domino. This 
was a great convenience. The rule was to wear 
either a complete costume, a Venetian mantle, or a 
domino and mask. 

Much was said then, and, especially has been said 
since against these balls, which, however, only fol- 
lowed the best traditions of the old monarchy. It 
was asserted that many deplorable intrigues were 
the result of this adoption of the mask and of the 

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COURT ENTERTAINMENTS 

familiar use in conversation of the second person 
singular, which was permitted to persons thus dis- 
guised. There has been much exaggeration in all 
this. Intrigues were the exception and a great many 
more persons went with uncovered faces than with 
masked faces. These balls were simply a species 
of iftnocent amusement much enjoyed at that time. 
The most reserved women and the most absorbed 
officials sometimes felt the need of some distraction, 
and an agreeable pastime was found in these cos- 
tumed and masked halls. It has not been possible, 
under the Third Republic, to reconstitute success- 
fully these ancient customs, especially as the mask 
has fallen almost universally into disuse. So the 
public has been easily led to criticize what was done 
and what was the general fashion of those past days. 
But most people did not at that date indulge in 
much criticism of what they knew was an old tradi- 
tion. But even then, everybody did not follow the 
prevailing custom. Thus, though the Emperor and 
the Empress were masked and wore dominoes at the 
first three balls mentioned above, at the Tuileries 
ball they were unmasked. 

At M. and Mme. AchiUe Fould’s ball — ^that is, at 
the State Minister’s function — also just mentioned, 
one or two interesting incidents occurred. Thus, 
passing through interior corridors from the 
Tuileries to the portion of the Louvre where was 
the official residence of the Minister, two dominoes 
got into the ball room by a private entrance. It 
was thought at the time that they were the Emperor 
and the Empress and I may say now that the sur- 
mise was correct. They remained an hour, then 
went away as they had come, having satisfied them- 

345 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


selves that everything was being properly conduct- 
ed at this large gathering. Napoleon III liked to 
inspect things with his own eye. “I seem to see 
what others never see,” he used to say. There was 
much comment at the time as to why they came and 
went so hastily and privately. Many wrong rea- 
sons were given. I here give the right one. * 

A sensational entry at this ball was that of two 
masked women wearing allegorical costumes which 
represented Peace and War. Peace, all in white, 
crowned with olive branches and bearing in her hand 
a green twig, presented this symbolical emblem to 
Princess Mathilde, with some appropriate remark. 
The Princess replied: “I accept it as a presage, 
but I can promise nothing.” War spoke to a gen- 
eral who had distinguished himself in the Crimea : 
“Will you take my lance?” she asked. “It is my 
trade to fight,” answered the general; “and one 
swallow does not make a spring.” 

International affairs were indeed then in an un- 
settled state. The Austrian Emperor had visited 
Italy at the end of 1856, but the people had not for- 
gotten how they had been treated in the recent past, 
and he was received with considerable coldness. 
Sardinia had frequently complained of Austrian pol- 
icy in Italy, while Austria, on her side, was much 
rufBed by the attacks made upon her by the Sar- 
dinian press. Growing coolness was also shown be- 
tween Austria and France on this same subject, 
which reached a climax when Napoleon said to the 
Austrian ambassadors at the levee held on January 
1, 1859 : “I regret that French relations with your 
government are not so good as they were ; but I beg 
you to inform your Emperor, that my personal feel- 

346 



COURT ENTERTAINMENTS 


ings for him have not changed.” In the meanwhile 
preparations for war were carried on with the great- 
est activity by Austria, Prance and Sardinia, and 
though England sent Lord Cowley to Vienna to try 
and prevent an outbreak, his mission was not suc- 
cessful. In spite of the balls and other Court fes- 
tivities which were purposely multiplied at Paris 
during these uncertain years, military matters came 
more and more to the fore, and greatly marred all 
social efforts, which made for peace and goodwill. 

The Princess Mettemich and Arsencne Houssaye 
introduced into Paris society of the sixties the cus- 
tom of giving redoubts or ridottos, entertainments 
in which dancing and music were mingled, a species 
of evening party which rapidly became popular and 
was much enjoyed by the fashionable world. They 
began at a masked ball in Eugenie’s honor. The 
Emperor attended wearing a Venetian cloak, while 
the Empress was disguised as Juno, if I record it 
rightly. The ball-room had been set up in the gar- 
den of the embassy, its walls covered with light blue 
satin and decorated mth large mirrors. Just before 
the Empress arrived, a somewhat comical incident 
occurred. Comte de Fleurieu, who represented a 
cocoa-seller, so common in the streets of Paris, had 
the little barrel slung over his shoulder filled with 
champagne, which he intended to give out to the 
thirsty during the ball. But, unbeknown to him, 
some practical joker unscrewed the tap, and all the 
precious liquid ran out on the floor. This caused for 
a moment considerable confusion and even indigna- 
tion in some minds — ^not without reason, it seems to 
me — ^but others laughed at the “mishap.” The floor 

347 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


was quite dry before the Empress arrived and she 
heard of the matter only the next day. 

Perhaps the finest ridotto of the regime was the 
one given at the Austrian embassy during the sea- 
son of 1869, when the hostess in a black domino and 
Comtesse Edmond de Pourtales, in a fine Oriental 
costume, were the boutes-en-train of the evemng, 
spreading gaiety everywhere, throughout the ele- 
gant and spacious ball room. It was in this same 
year that M. Houssaye began his celebrated ridottos 
of the Avenue Priedland, where he mingled so suc- 
cessfully society and the chief actors and actresses 
of the leading theaters of Paris. 

The diplomatic corps was, taken as a whole, a 
very remarkable body under the second empire. As 
the Emperor was always the soul of the regime, the 
diplomats, whether ambassadors or simple minis- 
ters, were really accredited to the sovereign. The 
cabinet ministers were considered of little impor- 
tance, at least till near the close of the regime, by 
these foreign representatives. They preferred to 
speak direct with the ruler of Prance and to receive 
inspiration immediately from him. Their reports 
to their own governments in so far as they have been 
made public, show how close was the union between 
the Emperor and the diplomatic corps. For this same 
reason the Empress was enabled to exert consider- 
able influence abroad, and to make felt foreign in- 
fluences at home, for it was naturally very easy for 
her to get the Emperor’s ear and to learn from him 
what he was thinking and what he wished to do or 
to have done. I should add, however, that she per- 
mitted herself to be used very seldom in this way 
by members of the diplomatic corps, and only when 

348 



COURT ENTERTAINMENTS 


she perceived that she could be of aid to the govern- 
ment in its policies ; and still less often did Eugenie 
utilize the power which came from her intercourse 
with the Emperor. I may say, nevertheless, that 
on more than one occasion, the Empress was thus 
ablg to be of benefit to France and when this was 
possible, she did not let the occasion slip unutilized. 

Prince and Princess Metternich were perhaps the 
most talked-of members of the diplomatic corps of 
the Second Empire. The Prince was an important 
personality, owing much of this importance to the 
fact that he was a special friend of the Emperor 
Francis Joseph and the son of the celebrated chan- 
cellor. He was a handsome man, with courteous and 
attractive manners, very well adapted to restore 
kindly relations between two nations which had just 
been warring together ; for Prince Metternich came 
to Paris immediately after the campaign of 1859. 
Napoleon requested that he be given the mission to 
Paris, as he had formerly known the Prince and 
had met him again at Villafranca. He was well ac- 
quainted with Paris society and rapidly gained a 
firm position at the Tuileries, where he soon became 
a very good friend of the Empress. He showed 
himself to be a most assiduous diplomat and though 
apt to be, perhaps, all things to all men, was persona 
grata everywhere. That he had too strong an in- 
fluence over the Emperor at the moment of the fall 
of the Archduke Maximilian and very nearly suc- 
ceeded in getting him into a compromising position 
in this connection, there can now be no doubt. In 
1866, he naturally strove to secure the intervention 
of the Emperor in favor of Austria, but his council 
was not listened to. In 1870, he did valuable service 

349 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

in letting Prance clearly see just tow far went the 
possibilities of aid from his country. But it was 
his wife perhaps that made Prince Metternich one 
of the most famous men in Paris. Owing to her in- 
telligence, her fine presence, her originality and the 
tact she displayed in securing and keeping the first 
place in Paris society. Princess Metternich was the 
most-talked-of woman of the Tuileries court and led 
the female contingent of the diplomatic corps. Her 
features were rather broad and irregular, and her 
shoulders lacked plumpness, but a natural elegance 
hid these physical defects, and her quick mind and 
clever talk did the rest, making her a woman of re- 
markable ability. She was bold in gesture, pic- 
turesque in imagination and often rather startling 
in speech. She was fond of singing catchy little 
songs, taking many of them from the repertory of 
Theresa, the famous concert-hall singer of the 
period. This gave rise to the report, which was 
quite false, however, that she and the singer were 
close friends. She made real hits with these songs, 
which were sometimes given in a fashion that 
Theresa would have been proud of. In some quar- 
ters, this conduct was rather severely criticized, as 
were also the princess’s often eccentric fashion in 
dress and a certain carelessness in manner. She 
was a constant guest at Compiegne, as both the Em- 
peror and the Empress were very much attached to 
her and her husband. She enjoyed organizing char- 
ades and tableaux as has already been seen and 
showed much talent in the distribution of the parts 
and in preparing the costumes. She was full of 
suggestions and was not prone to brook contradic- 

350 



COUET ENTEETAINMENTS 

tion. I know of one of these tiffs, wMch created a 
considerable tempest in a teapot. 

A little play called The Country LuMch was being 
rehearsed under the stage direction, as usual, of 
Princess Metternich. Among the actresses was the 
Duohesse de Persigny, who also had a mind of her 
own. It soon became evident that the Duchess was 
pleased neither with her part nor her costume, and 
wished to improve her rather mean appearance by 
showing off her beautiful fair hair. 

“Who ever heard,” said Princess Metteraich, “of 
a lady’s waiting maid wearing her hair loose over 
her shoulders at a country picnic?” 

“They do as they like,” replied the Duchess, “and 
then, we are playing to get some fun out of it, and 
it would please me to show off my hair.” 

“Then, don’t appear in this tableau,” answered 
the Princess sharply. She was beginning to lose 
her temper, and finally came to the Empress with her 
tale of woe. But Eugenie always detested petty 
quarrels and tittle-tattle and so tried to keep out of 
this trifling squabble, though, on account of the high 
quality of the persons concerned, she had to say 
something. So the Empress remarked to the 
Princess : 

“I should advise you to let the Duchess have her 
own way, especially as what she proposes doing may 
have a good effect. And you should remember and 
so be a little indulgent, that her mother was a little 
queer.” She referred to Princesse de la Moskowa, 
who was a daughter of Laflfitte. Immediately, Prin- 
cess Metternich made this odd response : 

“Well, if the Duchess’s mother is a wee bit daft, 

351 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


my father was in the same state, and so I do not at 
all intend to yield.” 

It is generally known that the father of Princess 
Metternich, Count Sandor, was indeed famous for 
his eccentricities. He was an ardent equestrian and 
many stories were told of his feats of horseman^ip. 
He had been frequently thrown, and it was said that 
his brain was affected thereby, so that one day he 
drove liis drag and steeds into the Danube and broke 
his back in the fall. 

Princess Metternich acted very weU herself and 
obtained a marked success at Compiegne one season 
by producing scenes from Csesar’s Commentaries. 
She kept up her interest in histrionics and after 
the Prince retired from the French mission, under 
Thiers’s administration, plays for charity were 
often given at the Metternich house in Vienna. 

She liked to recite, too, and was very successful 
in several of Nadaud’s simple and touching poems. 
Nor was her taste for music and song confined to the 
trifles of Theresa. She was fond of solid music and 
did much to prepare the way for the final introduc- 
tion of Wagner into Paris. When Tannhduser was 
first given at the Paris Opera, it was vigorously 
hissed. On this occasion, however, the Princess was 
seen standing in her box and breaking a beau- 
tiful fan to pieces by the ardor of her applause. The 
piece was not given again till after the fall of the 
Empire, when it aroused a storm of popular opposi- 
tion. Frenchmen who have since become Wagner- 
ian to excess, were then on both occasions, violently 
opposed to this music. Princess Metternich used 
to say, referring to that famous night: “Well, I 
did what I could to save Wagner’s honor.” 

352 



COURT ENTERTAINMENTS 


During these years, the Austrian embassy at Paris 
was a most active center both in social and in politi- 
cal matters. Though Austria had just been beaten 
by France, as I have already said, the Princess and 
her husband showed such tact and social activity, 
that they soon drew to their circle all that was best 
at the capital. Dinners, balls, plays and receptions 
followed one another in quick succession. The din- 
ners were justly celebrated; they were excessively 
elegant, and the guests wei*e invited with the great- 
est care. The Emperor and the Empress often ac- 
cepted invitations to the Embassy, and did all they 
could to add to the gayety of this delightful center. 

In the baseless attacks sometimes made on the 
morals and manners of the Court of the Second Em- 
pire, Princess Metternieh always comes in for more 
than her share of the blame. This is due not only 
to her ways and words which gave some ground for 
criticism, but to her prominence. Slanderers always 
single out the loaders for their cruel attacks, and 
hence it is that the Emperor and the Empress have 
been the victims of these same low critics. When 
it became the fashion to talk against the Court and 
east contempt on all the ladies who composed it, 
numerous were the calumnies that were invented. 
Details were given which had never existed and 
gross exaggeration was the rule. This disagreeable 
subject is touched upon more than once, I fear, in 
this chapter. But it made such a sorrowful impres- 
sion on the Empress, that I find myself recurring 
to it in spite of myself. But the world has since 
become more just, and it is now beginning to be ad- 
mitted that nothing very extraordinary took place 
at the Tuileries and at Oompiegne. 

353 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

A good friend of the Metlerniclis was the Italian 
ambassador Chevalier, and later Count Nigra. He 
did not belong to a great family, but owed bis ad- 
vancement to bis marked ability and the support 
which this ability won from Cavour. He was very 
amiable in ladies’ society, a good talker and always 
courteous in manner. He had an enviable position 
at the Tuileries. Ho bad a good voice and one of 
the pleasantest recollections of Fontainebleau is 
a boat party on the lake, where Count Nigi'a 
bummed, mezzo voce, pretty Italian canzonets. His 
rather feline grace and Piedmontese stutter bad a 
certain attraction about them, which partly explain 
bis unquestioned success at court. But at first 
sight, I do not think it can be said that the count 
was distinguished looking or seductive. He was al- 
ways very friendly to the Empress. He knew her 
views concerning the religious question in Italy and 
did all he could to combat discreetly her influence 
in this direction. At the moment of the outbreak 
of the war in 1870, he of course could not be expect- 
ed to do very much to bring Italy to the French side, 
for France could not accept the conditions which he 
offered, that is, to abandon the Pope and suffer 
Victor Emmanuel to carry out the nation’s wish 
and secure Rome as the capital. He shilly-shallied, 
declaring his devotion to France but doing so in 
such a way as not to compromise his government. 
I know he was pained at the fall of the Empire and 
at the misfortunes of the Emperor, for whom he had 
a very warm feeling; but like all good Italians, he 
felt a sense of relief and deliverance. Personally, 
the Empress could never forget how Count Nigra 
and Prince Mettemich risked their lives, perhaps, 

354 



COUET ENTERTAINMENTS 


in aiding her escape from Paris at the moment of 
the revolution of September 4th, as described in the 
second volume of these memoirs. 

At the side of Count Nigra at Paris was a semi- 
official diplomat, Count Vimercati, who was on 
friendly terms with Prince Napoleon and who fre- 
quenled the salon of Princess Mathilde. He used 
to be intrusted with confidential messages between 
the cabinets of the Tuileries and of Turin. He was 
amiable but prolix, and united to a great affectation 
of frankness a shrewdness that largely counterbal- 
anced his frankness. He it was who, on the eve of 
the war, brought word direct from the king, thus 
emphasizing the earlier reply of Nigra, that Italy 
could only support France “a few months later.” 
A few months later ! This was not the answer when 
Italy looked to France to aid her in her efforts to 
shake off the Austrian yoke ! 

In the Russian embassy, perhaps a word should 
be said about Princess Lise Troubetjkoi, who was 
the sister of the wife of the Russian military at- 
tache, Count Paul Schouwaloff, who later became a 
very important personage in Russia and was sent as 
ambassador to Germany. Countess Schouwaloff, 
whose maiden name was Princess Belosselsky, was 
a gentle, kindly lady in somewhat delicate health, 
who won many friends both in Imperial and in Fau- 
bourg Saint Germain circles by her perfect manners 
and affability. But her sister. Princess Trou- 
betjkoi, who dabbled in politics and sought both 
under the Empire and afterwards to play a part, 
was rather distrusted. Her salon had a certain rep- 
utation, however, especially at the time when M. 
Thiers ruled Prance. She had a large acquaintance 

355 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


in all countries and carried on a large correspon- 
dence with persons of position. Wishing to appear 
even better informed than she really was, she always 
seemed to have in her pocket a more or less impor- 
tant letter, which was drawn forth at the right time. 
Thus, if the name of Prince Gortchakotf were men- 
tioned, she was apt to say: “Why, I had a fetter 
from him this morning,” and an envelope was im- 
mediately produced, but I cannot say whether there 
was anything inside it! Practical jokers knowing 
her weakness, were ever ready to send her letters 
for this famous pocket. 

Throughout nearly the whole Empire, the Brit- 
ish ambassador was Lord Cowley, who was an old 
friend of the Emperor. He and Lady Cowley were 
very intimate at both the Tuileries and at Oom- 
piegne. They remained good friends after Napo- 
leon’s fall, and Lord and Lady Cowley often visited 
the Emperor and Empress in England. Their at- 
tentions deeply touched both of the sovereigns. 

Lord Lyons, who followed them towards the end 
of the empire, came to Paris from Washington, 
where he had managed British affairs with tact dur- 
ing the stormy and delicate period of the American 
Civil War. The Emperor, who had never forgot- 
ten his early days in the United States, used now 
and then to question the British ambassador con- 
cerning the growth of the Great Republic, and going 
off on to political affairs, would ask to be told the 
American side of the Mexican Expedition imbroglio. 
Lord Lyons on one occasion gave him a very graphic 
description of Mr. Seward, the American Secretary 
of State, who conducted so ably the foreign affairs 
of the Union during this critical crisis and whom 

356 



COUET ENTEETAINMENTS 


our Foreign Office, at the time of this Mexican af- 
fair, found no ordinary antagonist, ably seconded 
as he was at Paris by that charming personality, 
John Bigelow, who, with General Dix, the accom- 
plished gentleman who succeeded him, were the two 
American Ministers of the Second Empire whose 
marked individuality has left an impression on all. 

The Empress was particularly interested in the 
Danish minister. Count von Moltke-Hoitfeld, for 
two reasons. In the first place, he was married to 
a charming woman, the daughter of Baron von 
Zeehach, minister of Saxony in Paris. She was very 
degant and much sought after by the society circles 
of the day. Her second interest in this brilliant 
family arose from the fact that one of their nephews 
married Miss Bonaparte-Patterson, daughter of 
Colonel Bonaparte, grandson of King Jerome. 
Colonel Bonaparte, though an American citizen, 
served gallantly in the French army and was on the 
friendliest terms with the Emperor and the Em- 
press. He often visited the latter at Chislehurst. 

Count von Goltz, Prussian minister, who was quite 
in his place in Paris, succeeded Count von Hatzfeld 
mentioned elsewhere in these memoirs. Count von 
Goltz was an excellent conversationalist and was 
very much liked by ladies. The Empress especially 
enjoyed his interesting society. It has often been 
said that if he had not been forced by bad health 
to abandon his post some eighteen months before 
the Hohenzollern affair, he could have prevented the 
war. Perhaps this is too much to say, but I know 
that he very clearly saw the storm coming as early 
as 1868. He did not hesitate to point out the bale- 
ful influence of Bismarck, hoped to check its evil in- 

357 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

fluence and loved to dream of an alliance between 
the two nations. How often in after years tbe Em- 
peror and tbe Empress would talk of this noble man 
and praise bim for bis bigh-minded efforts for peace 
and good-will! 

I may close this imperfect account of some o| tbe 
members of tbe corps wbo made tbe most lasting 
impression by a few words concerning an ambassa- 
dress in partihus, that distinguished foreigner, 
Dorothea von Benckendorff, Prinoesse de Lieven, 
Guizot’s Egeria. She gathered about her all tbe im- 
portant men of the day. Tbe Empress was once 
taken to her salon by Comte de Morny, about tbe 
time the former was to wed tbe Emperor. “You 
must have her on your side,” said tbe count; “she 
can influence all tbe European courts in our favor.” 
Eugenie made a note about her after tbe first visit 
and described her as “a tall old woman, thin, dried- 
up and stern looking.” She was then sixty-seven 
and bad lost her captivating grace of former days. 
She welcomed Eugenie most warmly and made quite 
a fuss over her, for tbe approaching marriage had 
recently been made public. I do not think tbe Em- 
press ever saw again this really remarkable woman. 



CHAPTER XIV 


THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

Many of the facts and impressions contained in 
these volumes are based on manuscript notes made 
at the time of the occurrences described. This is 
especially true of all that concerned the Empress’s 
personal household and the persons who composed 
it, most of whom were true to her during the days 
of prosperity and few of whom forgot her when the 
time of trial came. In the following pages I shall 
mention several of these friends and aids, and if 
some names are overlooked, it will be as a general 
rule by mistake. I will also enter somewhat into 
detail concerning the service of the palace and court, 
because, as it is now so many years that France has 
been living under republican institutions, I am told 
that a description of these habits and customs of 
the past will be read with special interest by new 
generations. This explains why I give place here 
to some facts which might otherwise seem rather 
trivial. 

The greater part of the services appertaining to 
Eugenie’s household were not combined with but 
annexed to those appertaining to the Emperor’s 
household. Though the two households were dis- 
tinct in so far as concerned the persons who com- 
posed them, the Grand Master and the Grand Mis- 
tress of Eugenie’s household performed in reality 

359 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

only tlie service of honor attached to their positions 
and the duty of being present at audiences and pres- 
entations, Everything else, such as invitations to 
dinners, concerts, halls, were made out in the offices 
of the Emperor’s household and signed by his offi- 
cials. There was at least one exception to this rule 
— the Empress’s Monday evening dances were man- 
aged by her own grand master and first chamber- 
lain. But this Grand Master had nothing to do with 
her correspondence, the distribution of money to 
charities, and such things, which duties were per- 
formed by the private secretary. Nor did her grand 
raistress occupy herself with the Empress’s ward- 
robe, which was left in the hands of Mme. Pollet, 
under direct orders. The ladies of the palace, who 
were on duty, two by two, had nothing to do with 
the more domestic affairs of the household. Theirs 
was entirely a service of honor. A covered carriage, 
and later a coupe, used to go and fetch them firom 
their homes about one o’clock each day. When they 
arrived at the Tuileries or Saint Cloud, as the case 
might be, they generally found already there, in the 
so-called Duty Salon, the lady reader, the lady of 
honor and the chamberlain. It was the audience 
hour. The lady visitors were introduced by the lady 
of the palace then on duty, the gentlemen by the 
chamberlain. But it was not the Empress’s habit 
to give many audiences. The few ladies who were 
received into the intimate circle came more usually 
about six o’clock, before the dinner hour. Towards 
the end of the Empire, the more frequent of these 
visitors were the Empress’s niece, the Duchesse de 
Mouchy, bom Princess Anna Murat, whom she was 
very fond of, and Mme. Delessert and her daughter, 

360 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

the Comtesse de Nadaillac, who were friends even 
before the advent of the Empire, when Eugenie was 
a child. They were rather outside of the court circle 
on account of the political opinions of their own 
circle, and generally saw the Empress in private. 
The Princesses of the Bonaparte family were al- 
ways welcomed whenever they came, as were also 
the daughters of the Duchesse d’Albe. They often 
stayed at tiie castle, whether the court was at Paris 
or elsewhere. 

When the Empress went out for a drive, the court 
regulations were as follows: She found the ladies 
of the household congregated in the salon assigned 
to the Emperor ’s chamberlain. The lady in waiting 
on “grand duty” took her place in the carriage, 
along with the chamberlain, while the lady on ‘ ‘ sec- 
ond duty” drove in the next carriage. If the Em- 
press was going out with the Emperor, the aide-de- 
camp of the Emperor and the second orderly oflScer 
sat with them and the two ladies got in the second 
carriage. Sometimes the Empress went out late, 
when the ladies waited in the service salon reading 
or embroidering. At other times she would not go 
out at all, when the ladies in waiting would be per- 
mitted to withdraw and be driven to their respec- 
tive homes, whence they were fetched back again for 
dinner to the TuUeries. After dinner and at the 
end of the evening, they were once more driven 
home. The charity visits were generally made in 
the morning, when the Empress was accompanied 
only by a lady in waiting. 

The ladies of the household always appeared in 
low-necked dresses in the evening, as the Empress 
did herself, and on ordinary occasions they wore but 

361 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


few jewels. On the left of their bodices, the ladies 
pinned the badge of their office, which consisted of 
Eugenie’s initial in diamonds on blue enamel, with 
the Imperial crown above the letter. The grand mis- 
tress and first lady in waiting also wore on their bod- 
ice attached to the same riband, a doublejjfaced 
jewel, one side holding the portrait of the Emperor 
and the other side the Empress ’s own portrait, the 
two portraits being framed in diamonds. The gover- 
ness of the Children of France wore similar jewels. 

A word about some of the other ladies of the 
household. The lady reader arrived before the 
ladies in waiting, wrote letters but did not often read 
to the Empress as she much preferred to read to 
herself. In fact, I think I may fairly say that she 
was always quite a devourer of books, and it would 
have troubled her somewhat to be read to, in the 
first place because she would have always felt that 
this act was wearisome to the young lady who was 
performing it — she knew by experience in younger 
days that it is very fatiguing — and in the second 
place she liked to “skim” some parts of a book, and 
read over other parts several times. All these in- 
tellectual whims are next to impossible when your 
reading is done for you. So the official reader had 
somewhat of a sinecure at the Tuileries court. She 
retired as a rule, when the ladies in waiting arrived. 

There was also a body of young ladies in waiting. 
One of these generally devoted her morning to the 
correspondence and accompanied the Empress on 
her visits to religious and charitable institutions. 
They would sometimes go to an exhibition, when 
the Chamberlain was also of the party. These 
young ladies in waiting had as a special duty the 

362 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


filing away of letters, docmnents and papers of all 
sorts wliieli could be of any possible value in the 
present or in the future. They were particularly 
careful to preserve any communication of historical 
value. Many papers of this sort addressed to the 
En^eror were carefully put away by these same 
orderly hands. In this fashion I found many valu- 
able aids to my memory when I set to work on these 
rather rambling, I fear, and somewhat inadequate 
recollections of the Empress’s public life. Though 
some of these documents, and many others, were 
lost during the stormy period of the fall of the 
Second Empire, still we managed to save a large 
portion of these interesting collections of manu- 
scripts which throw so much light on several of the 
episodes and personages of the epoch. 

The grand mistress of the household, who had 
been selected at the moment of the Empress’s mar- 
riage and who continued to fill this delicate post 
throughout the reign, was the Princesse d’Essling, 
Duchesse de Eivoli, the daughter of General Debelle 
and widow of the son of the famous Marshal Mas- 
sena, surnamed “the cherished child of victory.” 
The Princess had a pleasant face framed with fair 
curly hair. Though somewhat cold and severe in 
her bearing, perhaps, she was at heart good, kind 
and very distinguished in all she said and did. 
Whether in Paris, or traveling, she performed aU 
her duties with great care and tact. It was her cus- 
tom to come to the Tuileries every day to learn the 
Empress ’s desires, when she would withdraw. She 
was present at all important state functions, such 
as receptions or dinners, and presented by name the 
ladies who had been invited. This naming of guests 

363 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


is always a valuable aid to a hostess, especially to 
one in the position which Eugenie then held. In 
the flurry of the moment, one often forgets for an 
instant the name even of a very good acquaintance, 
and then it is that such valuable aid as the Princess 
could give was fully appreciated. How many times 
she has saved Eugenie from making a blunder or 
being guilty of a sin of omission or commission, and 
how often the Empress has thanked her warmly, 
after some great social event, for her tactful and 
invaluable support. She was a good friend to the 
end of her well-filled days, and her elegant and 
eclectic salon in the Rue Jean Goujon was one of 
the most ehanning centers of polite Paris. One of 
her grandsons married one of the Empress’s 
cousins, which was another bond of union, between 
them, though all she did during the long years of 
the Second Empire would alone have sufficed to keep 
her memory very dear. 

The chief lady in waiting, the Duehesse de Bas- 
sano, belonged to the Belgian family of the Barons 
de Hooghvorst. She was a very distinguished look- 
ing woman, had a most charming manner and per- 
formed her duties with much discretion. She and 
her husband, who was grand chamberlain, as I have 
already said, were instrumental in drawing to the 
Tuileries many personal friends of marked distinc- 
tion and value to the young regime, and the Em- 
peror and the Empress always felt very grateful to 
them for the indefatigable manner in which they 
labored for the strengthening of the restored Em- 
pire. The Due and Duehesse lived at the Tuileries 
and gave very select gatherings which were much 
appreciated by the elite of the capital. The Em- 

364 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


press not infrequently attended these choice httle 
parties and soon became most warmly attached to 
the Duchesse, so that when her death came in 1868, 
it was a terrible blow and was deeply mourned by 
the whole court. One of her daughters married the 
Mai^uis d’Espeuilles, a brilliant cavalry officer, 
who was aide-de-camp to the Prince Imperial, and 
so was doubly dear to Eugenie. 

The Due de Bassano survived his wife. After the 
fall of the Empire, he followed the Emperor and the 
Empress into exile. He was most devoted to the 
Emperor and, after his death, he transferred this 
devotion to Eugenie. When she lost the Prince Im- 
perial, he would spend nearly the whole year with 
her, leaving her only now and then to visit his chil- 
dren. When she made her sad pilgrimage to the 
Cape, he wished to accompany her, but Eugenie felt 
the voyage was too long for a man of his years, and 
he finally consented to let himself be represented 
by his son, the Marquis de Bassano. As the infirmi- 
ties of age crept upon him, he retired and enjoyed 
the thoughtful care of his daughter the Marquise 
d’Espeuilles, and it was in her comfortable home 
that this faithful servitor of the Second Empire died 
at the advanced age of ninety-four. His charming 
character remained with him to the last. His con- 
versation concerning things of the past was most 
interesting, and this past went far back, because 
he always recalled with pleasure the fact that the 
great Napoleon once patted him, when a child, on 
the cheek. He had seen the two Empires in their 
glory. The Empress could never speak of him, after 
he passed away, without deep emotion. 

Nearly all the ladies of the palace have also passed 

365 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

away. Many of them I shall ever hold in sweet 
memory, they were so faithful in sunshine and in 
storm. I can never forget Comtesse Gustave de 
Montebello, born Villeneuve-Bargemont, who was so 
pretty and affable. She became a dear friend of 
the Empress, and when she lost a charming little 
daughter and was sad and isolated, the Court keenly 
felt the absence of this gay member of its circle. 
When her husband was sent to Rome to take com- 
mand of the French troops for the protection of the 
Pope she soon became as popular there as she had 
been in Paris. But she did not forget the Empress, 
for every year she returned to take up for a while 
her duties in the palace. Eugenie often visited her 
during her last illness, in 1870, and when she finally 
passed into the other world, the Empress felt as 
never before that a new friend was awaiting her on 
“the other side.” 

Baronne de Pierres, whom I have already men- 
tioned as one of the ladies in waiting, was an Ameri- 
can by birth. She was a most excellent horsewoman 
and always accompanied the Empress, when the lat- 
ter rode or hunted. Eugenie knew her before she 
mounted the throne, when her father, Mr. Thorne, 
was a well-known figure in the American colony of 
Paris, which was so brilliant and so well received 
at the Court of the Second Empire. Eugenie always 
liked to keep up her English, as if she foresaw that 
some day she would pass the decline of her life in 
an English-speaking land. Miss Thorne spoke Eng- 
lish with just a slight touch of the best American 
accent and some of the words which she had brought 
with her from the other side of the Atlantic — espe- 
cially that picturesque American slang, which she 

366 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

sometimes employed with much effect in her lively 
conversation — had a special charm for the Empress. 
I think it was largely due to this fascinating Ameri- 
can woman that her fellow countrymen and women 
always had such a warm welcome at the Court of 
the^Tuileries. 

The Crimean war was the indirect cause of the 
admission to the household of several excellent 
ladies. One of these was the Comtesse de Lourmel, 
widow of the General who was killed during that ex- 
pedition. At the same time, widows of two other 
unfortunate generals and heroes — Madame de Bran- 
cion and Madame Bizot — ^were appointed under-gov- 
ernesses of the Children of France. The widow of 
Admiral Bruat, who had just died in the Crimea, 
was the head-governess. The Comtesse de Lourmel 
was a very amiable woman, and the fact that herself 
and the other ladies just mentioned, were sufferers 
from the unfortunate war always bound them closer 
to the Empress. The Emperor used to refer to these 
widows as “that noble hand of female Invalides, 
who would do honor to the old home built by Louis 
XIV, if women were admitted there.” 

Perhaps the handsomest of the ladies in waiting, 
who also had a most cultivated mind, was the Com- 
tesse de Eayneval, a canoness, but not a nun, and 
sister of the Comte de Eayneval who was for a long 
time in the diplomatic service. The countess united 
religious fervor to a large knowledge of the world, 
which gave a very unique stamp to her character 
that charmed the Empress not a little. ‘ ‘ A sincerely 
religious woman, who knows the ways of fashionable 
life,” the Emperor once said referring to her, “is 
as near perfection as can he hoped for on earth.” 

367 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

Baronne de Malaret, born Segnr, was a lady of 
honor, elegant in manner, with a beautiful temper 
and having hosts of friends, as she richly deserved. 
Another was Madame de Saulcy, wife of the distin- 
guished numismatist. She was a very religious and 
intelligent woman. The Emperor referred to, her 
when he said: “If there were saints in Court, she 
would be one.” Other ladies were Madame de 
Sancy-Parabere, daughter of General Lefevre-Des- 
noettes, whose eclectic salon was a neutral ground 
between the new Court and the old; the two daugh- 
ters of the Marquis de La Roche-Lambert, who en- 
tered the Imperial household on the same day, and 
one of whom — Comtesse de la Bedoyere, whose 
strikingly fair complexion was admired by the whole 
Court — ^had two sons, Laurent and Jean, who be- 
came the close friends of the Prince Imperial, their 
mother losing her first husband towards the end of 
the Empire and marrying Comte Edgar Ney, Prince 
de la Moskowa, aide-de-camp and friend of the Em- 
peror; the other daughter, Comtesse de la Poeze, 
very witty and bubbling over with spirits, who is 
still alive while I write these lines and who often 
accompanied the Empress on her various voyages 
and journeys; the Marquise de la Tour Maubourg, 
also one of her earlier traveling companions, grand- 
daughter of Marshal Mortier, who was killed at the 
side of Louis Philippe, when Piesehi made his at- 
tempt on the life of the king; and Baroness de Viry- 
Cohendier, whose husband became honorary cham- 
berlain. In fact, the husbands of all the ladies in 
waiting received this title, which gave them their 
entrance at the Tuileries and into the Court circles, 
generally. 


368 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

I should speak a little more at length, of one of the 
most beloved ladies, the late Viscomtesse Aguado, 
who was an octogenarian when she passed away. 
Her first husband, whom the Empress knew so well, 
died in a mad-house, and she then married her 
brother-in-law. She was bom a Macdonell and was 
related to the Talleyrands, the Montmorencys and 
other great families of the old French aristocracy. 
For many years the salon of Viscomte and Viscom- 
tesse Aguado was the meeting place of all the ele- 
gant society of Paris. The family had been very 
rich, possessed a fine hunting estate in the Seine et 
Marne department and owned, later, a grand town 
house in the Eue de I’Elysee, overlooking the garden 
of the Elysee Palace. 

The last nomination of lady of the palace was that 
of Mme. Carette, the granddaughter of Admiral 
Bouvet. This lady first attracted attention during 
a visit which the Empress made with the Emperor 
to Brittany, by her extreme beauty. At first she 
was the reader, and then she replaced as one of the 
Empress’s ladies Comtesse de Lazay-Marnesia, a 
distant relative of the Beauharnais family, who was 
in bad health. Mme. Carette often accompanied the 
Empress on her travels and official visits of all 
kinds. She had the bad luck to be with the Emperor 
and the Empress on the occasion of an accident 
which happened to them at Neufchatel, when all were 
in the greatest danger because the horse took fright, 
and she, unfortunately, had her arm broken. 

Mile. Marion, daughter of the general, also be- 
longed to the household. She married, shortly be- 
fore the war, Comte Clary, who then belonged to 
the nailitary household of the Emperor, which post 

369 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

he resigned in order to devote himself entirely to 
the Prince Imperial, whose aide-de-camp he became. 
He followed the royal family into exile, and became 
the superintendent of the joint household in Eng- 
land. He died young, after great suffering, brought 
on by a terrible liver complaint which he had con- 
tracted in Mexico. His death was a great loss to the 
Prince Imperial and to all, for he was a wise coun- 
selor and a devoted friend. His son was early at- 
tached to the Empress’s suite and always remained 
with her, accompanying her in all the voyages and 
journeys. He was of much aid during the last visit 
to Egypt and throughout the tour to India in 1908. 

Now a few words about the male members of the 
household. Comte de Tascher de la Pagerie was 
the grand master. The Tascher family was of 
French origin and had emigrated to Martinique 
during the eighteenth century. The Count was a 
very upright and generally respected man. He came 
to France in 1802, and Napoleon put him in the Fon- 
tainebleau military school. He afterwards distin- 
guished himself on the battle fields of the First Em- 
pire and was made a count in 1808. He identified 
himself with the interests of Prince Eugene, whom 
he followed to Bavaria, whence he was recalled in 
1852, by the Emperor and made senator and grand 
master of the Empress’s household, as I have just 
said. It will thus be seen that the Count was quite 
a historic character and had seen a great deal of 
the world. Both the Emperor and Eugenie enjoyed 
his conversation, and he could speak most interest- 
ingly of the great events and the great men of the 
past, when he got warmed to the subject. 

Napoleon always found a peculiar pleasure in 

370 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

having about him these men of the past, who brought 
him so near to the great Emperor, whom he could 
recall only vaguely. It was most touching to hear 
the Emperor question such men as the Count about 
the smallest details of the looks, doings, and 
thoughts of Napoleon I. The Emperor did this so 
constantly and during such a long series of years, 
that in the end, he had in his own mind so clear a 
picture of the time and the gTeat actors on the scene, 
with Napoleon in the foreground, that he finally felt 
himself of the circle. Perhaps no person in France 
who belonged to the generation which immediately 
followed the “grand era” was so imbued with its 
life and spirit as was Napoleon III, and the Pagerie 
family contributed not a little to bring this about. 
Hence it is that the Empress always had a peculiar 
fondness for these relatives, for such they were. 

Every day Comte de la Pagerie would come to 
take the Empress’s “orders,” though in reality his 
functions were purely honorary. He and the Coun- 
tess lived in the Pavilion de Marsan in the Tuileries 
palace. The Count suffered considerably from gout 
and was not seen much except when on duty. The 
Countess also lived a somewhat retired life, though 
her drawing-room was open to a large number of 
intimate friends. It was a sort of little German 
court right in the heart of Paris. Her immediate 
circle always addressed her as Durchlaucht, or Se- 
rene Highness, which had a delightful odor from 
the other side of the Ehine. The two daughters who 
lived with their mother and father gave a still fur- 
ther Teutonic touch to this home-circle. The first 
bore the thoroughly Germanic name of Comtesse 
Waldner-Freundstein, and the second, Comtesse 

371 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Steplianie, was a canoness in Bavaria. She was the 
gayest of the group and was especially clever in 
planning original quadrilles for masked balls. Many 
a Tuileries “hop” was given a stamp of delightful 
originality by the happy thought of this bright 
woman. The Emperor has left this rather curious 
note concerning this very virile mind : " 

“The Comtesse once wrote some humorous mem- 
oirs, which were published during her lifetime, but 
which were arranged by a writer named Paul Gau- 
lot, for the family feared that the rather Germanic 
crudeness of her language might provoke unfavor- 
able comment. She was indeed something of a Pala- 
tine princess, and her decidedly German accent when 
she spoke French lent a certain originality to her 
conversation which always amused me. She liked 
to indulge in ridicule, but, at heart, she was not ill- 
natured and could not be said to be a back-biter, 
though her tongue, which often caused much merri- 
ment, was feared in some quarters. Her well-known 
Teutonic leanings and her open correspondence with 
Queen Augusta and a number of German princes 
and princesses caused her to be looked upon with 
a certain distrust in French circles. She was one 
of those who hold that we may have two countries. 
But I do not wish to convey the impression that it 
was believed that she had caused any harm to this 
country by keeping up her connections with the 
land where she was born and brought up and where 
she had two married sisters.” 

Comte Charles de la Pagerie, son of the grand 
master, was first chamberlain in the Empress’ house- 
hold. He became senator after the death of his 
father in 1861 and obtained the Emperor’s permis- 

372 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

sion to assiame the title of Duo de Dalberg, the Duo 
de Dalberg having been his uncle. He was witty in 
conversation, but extremely ugly, which ugliness 
was not lessened by a strange habit which he had 
of making odd grimaces when he talked. His tastes 
were also very Germanic, like those, in fact, of all 
his family, with the exception of his father, who 
had remained quite French. The son continued the 
tradition of his father and mother in making the 
Tascher salon the meeting place of all the diplo- 
matists of the large and small German courts, and 
there you were sure to find any German of impor- 
tance who happened to pass through Paris. When 
the Emperor went over to call on the Taschers in 
their wing of , the palace, he would say with a smile : 
“lam now going to cross the Rhine”; and when he 
returned to his part of the Tuileries, he would add : 
“Well, I am back from the Fatherland.” At one 
time the Empress thought of trying to acquire a 
good knowledge of the German language and she 
used to go over to the Taschers for conversation. 
But she had not the necessary leisure to keep it up, 
when the Emperor remarked: “You have returned 
from the Fatherland to stay.” 

At first the Empress had but one chamberlain — 
Viscomte de Lezay Marnesia — in addition to the first 
chamberlain. But later, three others were named, 
the Marquis d’Havrincourt, the Marquis de Piennes 
and the Comte de Cosse-Brissac. I mention the fact 
and their names more on account of the pleasing co- 
incidence that all of them were clever amateur ar- 
tists — ^the first being a sculptor, the second a very 
good draftsman, and the last, not a bad painter. As 
the Empress always greatly enjoyed the arts, these 

373 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


three gentlemen had not a little to do with making 
our circle a delightful center for the discussion and 
practicing of the fine arts. More than one famous 
painter or sculptor of the day was admitted to the 
“art coterie" as the Emperor called it, and went 
away, I am convinced, with new ideas and a feeling 
that the Tuileries breathed an atmosphere not inimi- 
cal to the beautiful in art and letters. At the time 
of writing this chapter, the Marquis de Piennes is 
the only one of this delightful trio who still survives. 
He has been residing for many years on his large 
Austrian estates and several times visited the Em- 
press. He has not lost with age any of that uncom- 
mon type of wittiness which made him famous in the 
old Tuileries circle. It was through him that the 
Empress always felt the more closely drawn to Mar- 
shal MacMahon, as the son of the Marquis, who died 
young, unfortunately, was married to the daughter 
of the marshal. An interesting fact, concerning 
Comte de Cosse Brissac was that, though his family 
was opposed to the Empire, he remained faithful to 
it, while his bright and amusing nature made him 
very popular in the court circle. 

There was, among the subalterns, in the Em- 
press’ service, a somewhat striking figure worthy, 
for several reasons, of a few moments’ attention. 
Mme. PoUet, long known by the name of P4pa, has 
been said to have exerted considerable influence over 
Eugenie and her immediate circle. But this is quite 
a mistake for, though they all liked Mme. PoUet 
fairly well on account of her blind devotion, she was 
never in any way admitted into Eugenie’s con- 
fidence. 

Mme. PoUet was quite young when she entered 

374 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


the Empress’ service when the latter was Comtesse 
de Teba, and she remained with Eugenie all her life. 
The Empress married her to an infantry officer and 
at the time of her marriage gave her the title of 
treasurer. 

Tl^at pale little woman, who seemed to have no 
strength whatever and constantly complained of ill- 
health, was activity personified. She was the only 
Spanish woman in the service. She spoke the most 
curious French imaginable. She had faults which 
cannot be overlooked, but she was, as I have just 
said, entirely devoted to the Empress, who fuUy 
appreciated her fidelity, which did not however pre- 
vent from scolding her on numerous occasions when 
her jealousy and ill-temper gave rise to difficulties 
and disputes among the serving-women, troubles of 
a kind which Eugenie detested most cordially. Witty 
and fairly intelligent, Mme. Pollet knew how to turn 
to good account the trust reposed in her. Some 
persons have said that she took undue advantage of 
her position. But that is not perfectly exact, for it 
should be remembered, Pepa was in no way her own 
mistress. 

The Empress received one million two hundred 
thousand francs yearly from the Emperor ; one hun- 
dred thousand of that amount she used for dress, 
while most of the rest was distributed in presents, 
pensions, and charitable bequests. It was Mme. Pel- 
let’s duty to keep all the private accounts. She was 
consequently in close relations with the tradespeople 
for not only the clothes but also for the presents 
which Eugenie had to make. It must be admitted 
that under such circumstances, a mortal would re- 
quire more than an ordinary dose of probity not to 

375 



MBMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


succumb to tbe temptation of feathering one’s own 
nest. Histoiry leaves no doubt on this point. Mme. 
Pollet willingly accepted presents from the trades- 
people who were naturally interested in keeping in 
the good books of the treasurer and who over- 
whelmed her with gifts. The Empress was told later 
that she also accepted gifts offered by highly placed 
ladies who wished to obtain favors from the Em- 
peror or Eugenie and who were only too willing to 
bribe her. “But where shall we find a court, a min- 
istry, or even an ordinarily large private establish- 
ment, in which those who seek favors do not have 
recourse to the assistance of the subalterns when 
they think they will thus obtain easier access to the 
powers that be?” This was a very just reflection 
made by the Emperor when this matter came up one 
day after the fall of the Empire. 

Mme. Pollet was supreme as regards the direction 
of the women’s services, and there undoubtedly was 
very often discontent and bitterness among those 
around her. It frequently required all the kindness 
the Empress could command to soothe the feelings 
wounded by Pepa’s seeming injustice, and at times, 
it was no easy thing to put matters in order again. 
Eugenie would have much preferred to avoid these 
quarrels; but it is doubtful whether any other “su- 
perintendent of domestic affairs” as the Emperor 
dubbed Mme. Pollet, would not have caused the same 
difficulties. 

On the other hand, the Empress could safely trust 
Mme. Pollet to look after jewels, laces, furs, and 
things of that kind. This was a grand source of 
comfort. She had a great sense of order, and it 
even sometimes happened that things were so well 

376 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

tidied away by her that it was often impossible to 
find what one was looking for. In other words this 
good soul had, like so many more important people, 
the defects of her qualities. 

Mme. Pollet was present at the Empress’ toilet 
every day, took orders and transmitted them to the 
maids and servants generally. She constantly saw 
Eugenie for a thousand little matters or details, but 
it is certain that the latter did not allow her to play 
any part beyond her very subaltern role. A friend 
has very truly said: “She was never elevated to 
the rank of a lady, whether it were a lady in waiting 
or a lady in society.” The Empress never dis- 
cussed any important matter with her, which was, 
I fear, a source of great disappointment to her. But 
it was the only safe course. Knowing her character 
as she did, Eugenie was sure that if she gave her 
an inch she would take an ell, her usefulness would 
cease, and then they would have to part company. 

I am told that Mme. Pollet made every effort in 
her power to gain admission to official receptions 
so soon as her husband’s situation rendered it pos- 
sible for him to obtain invitations for her. But the 
Empress in no way encouraged these efforts and 
always tried to keep Pepa in the modest situation 
which she filled so well. But when, in 1869, M. Pol- 
let by the force of circumstances, became a colonel, 
his wife was seen, I believe, at one or two grand 
balls ; but that was all. Colonel Pollet, who was an 
excellent husband and soldier, died suddenly in 
Paris shortly before the Franeo-Prussian War 
broke out. His widow followed the Empress to Eng- 
land, but she found the climate too trying and was 
unable to remain there. So when she realized that 

377 



MEMOIBS OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

the Imperial restoration was not a matter of the 
immediate future, she returned to Paris to recruit 
her health, where she died very soon afterwards. 
She lived a somewhat isolated life during these last 
months, in the great capital, for almost every one 
had forgotten her, and she was no longer needed 
by those who had showered gifts on her in old times. 
They were not prone to recognize her now that she 
could be of no use to them. It must be admitted, 
too, that her bad temper prevented her from making 
fast friends. But she left a nice little fortune, I 
am told, for her sister and her niece, who had re- 
mained in Spain. 

The one great quality of Mme. Pollet was, as I 
have already said, her unlimited devotion to those 
whom she served. She would incur any danger for 
the Empress, and yet she was of a most timid tem- 
perament. She was often teased on account of the 
ease with which she could be thrown into a fright. 
If some one of the Court were to say: “Why, that 
curtain is moving!” Mme. Pollet would begin to 
tremble, and grow pale ; and if the Empress, enter- 
ing into the spirit of the joke, should add: “Pepa, 
what can be behind that curtain?” the poor woman 
would be seized with real terror. She would go to 
the curtain, and lift its folds with trembling hands, 
while the court ladies, delighted with the success of 
their prank, would laugh merrily; and Eugenie 
sometimes participated in the fun. 

Pepa’s peculiar French, and her queer mistakes, 
due to ignorance of the language or a general lack 
of information, also often provoked mirth. One 
example of this is worth recording here. When 
Oabanel was painting a portrait of the Emperor, 

378 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


the Empress told the celebrated artist to ask Mme. 
Pollet for all the accessories he might require. Con- 
sequently one day Cahanel wrote to Pepa asking 
her to let him have the hand of justice, which was 
to be painted in the picture with the crown and 
scepter. Much mystified, by the painter’s letter, 
Pepa sought one of the ladies in waiting, Mile. Bou- 
vet, and raising her hands to heaven, cried out, much 
agitated and with an unutterably droll accent: “La 
main de justice I But I cannot give him that.” 
Gradually calming down, she finally asked: “But, 
after all, what is the hand of justice?” And when 
it was explained to her that M. Cabanel simply 
wanted the baton anciently used by kings, which had 
an ivory hand at the end, she admitted that she 
thought it was some high legal position and that, 
on no account, would she undertake to transmit such 
a request to the Empress ! 

The friends who are interested in these memoirs 
have asked me’to include in them something on fash- 
ions during the Second Empire and to go into de- 
taOs concerning Eugenie’s tastes in the matter of 
toilette and other rather private topics, which I 
would not be inclined to do if not thus pressed, and 
if I did not know that these notes will not be read 
by the larger public till the Empress has passed 
into another and a better world. And then again, 
I, now in my old age, am speaking of things which 
happened back in my youth, when Eugenie was 
in the full gaze of France and all Europe, for it 
must not be forgotten that when the Second Empire 
was at its zenith, in the sixties, it was the cynosure 
of aU eyes. Thirdly, in a chapter on Court life, 

379 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


fashions, perhaps, have their rightful place. Such 
are my excuses, rather lame, some may think, for 
adding these more trivial notes to these pages of a 
life which had its serious side, notwithstanding the 
criticisms of some of her detractors. 

I cannot conceive of a state of society worthy of 
the name which should not feel that its rulers sliould 
make as fine an appearance as possible before the 
world. This was the view taken by the great Na- 
poleon and by his nephew, and the Empress shared 
this opinion of the two Emperors. Elegant clothes 
and jewels are as necessary on a throne, especially 
on the part of a queen or empress, as intelligence 
and popularity. The Court which preceded that of 
the Second Empire, had been described as lacking 
in elegance, and it has often been said that com- 
merce and industry in France and particularly in 
Paris suffered from this lack. Napoleon’s Court, 
however, has sometimes been criticized for an ex- 
cess of luxury and elegance. But it should not be 
forgotten that it was, in this particular, simply in 
accord with the time. Luxury and elegance were 
then predominant and are still, for that matter. 
Wealth and comfort and even show were never more 
prominent than to-day. Neither the political mis- 
fortunes of 1870, the uncertainty of the European 
situation, nor the instability of the Third Republic, 
has attenuated this taste for fine things, display and 
the comforts and pleasures brought by money. It 
is not going too far, perhaps, to say that elegance 
has become an essential part of the modem world 
and the life of all nations. But it is going to much 
too great a length and is wholly unjust to accuse 
the Second Empire as having been the instrument 

380 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


for the bringing about of this state of things. Every 
thoughtful person knows that the nearer people get 
to the quintessence of civilization and to the refine- 
ments thereof, the more are prized the arts, style 
in fashion, fine clothes, rich jewels. The sovereigns 
felt j;hat it was the duty of such a Court as was that 
of the Tuileries, in a country where commerce and 
industry are so eager in their demands for encour- 
agement, to give an impulse to trade and to create 
as far as we could a market for the more expensive 
products. And I think that I may say that they 
were eminently successful in this effort. Many large 
fortunes were made at Lyons and elsewhere be- 
cause of the support of the elite of the population, 
the fashions of the hour calling for beautiful ma- 
terials, for silks and rich fabrics of all kinds. 

The Empress’ efforts in this direction gave rise 
to many legends. Party pamphleteers went so far 
as to declare that she gave up her whole time to the 
devising of new gowns. Such phrases as these are 
scattered through certain sheets of the period: “the 
frivolity of the Empress,” “her immoderate love of 
fine clothes,” “her never-satisfied desire for luxuri- 
ous things,” “her custom of never wearing the same 
dress twice.” It is true that Eugenie often changed 
her attire; it was a duty imposed by her station. It 
is also of course true that she possessed a large 
number of costumes of all kinds. How could it have 
been otherwise? But these were not all full-dress 
gowns. In the ordinary home life at the Tuileries 
and in the summer retreats, Eugenie’s attire was 
always simple and in no way outdid the dress of the 
persons who surrounded her. It often happened 
that it was only the external part of her attire which 

381 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


was elegant. A rich mantle often covered a very 
modest gown. When the Empress di'ove out, espe- 
cially at Paris, her hat and cloak were handsome, 
but generally she was not otherwise “dressed up.” 
I dislike to touch on the more personal side of the 
subject; but so many idle stories were oireu]ated 
during the reign and so many of them are still alive, 
that it has seemed to me that I am doing my duty 
not only by the Empress but by the regime, in de- 
claring most of them to be wholly false and all of 
them to be exaggerated grossly. 

It will be pleasanter for me now to devote a few 
paragrajjhs to the more general theme of fashion 
and dress under the Second Empire, when what was 
worn at the state balls and great public ceremonies 
was often the talk of all Europe. 

When one speaks of fashion, it is often difficult 
to refrain from criticism and a smile. The elegant 
women of to-day, with their dresses which are more 
or less tight-fitting — little by little we are returning 
to more ample and becoming shapes — cannot under- 
stand how any one could have worn those wire cages 
called crinolines, which held up a whole shopful of 
material ! Three ladies so attired used to fill up the 
space of a moderate-sized room! What quantities 
of material were there and what a variety, — cun- 
ningly arranged draperies, fringes, ruchings, pleats, 
real or imitation laces, the whole ending in a long 
train which it was no easy task to pull about with 
one. 

There was a mixture of all styles during the Sec- 
ond Empire. You saw Renaissance sleeves, Louis 
XVI panniers, Grecian draperies and those little 
basques formerly worn by ladies of the time of the 

382 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


Fronde. It must be admitted tbat it was not an easy 
task, with such cumbersome and varied elements, to 
offer an elegant deportment and to make a charming 
appearance. Success depended on gracefulness of 
gesture, on carriage, on a sliding motion in one’s 
stepj on a svelt form and a supple bust. In the 
evening, when shoulders were bared, and the easy 
movements of the body were possible, the silhouette 
was more attractive; and, had it not been for the 
panniers and the crinolines, the dresses of that day 
would not have been ugly for dinner and after-din- 
ner wear. 

During the Second Empire, it was quite a feat to 
walk when you were forced to carry about with you 
such an unnatural rotundity as that of the crino- 
line. When you sat down, you had to guard against 
the flying up or out of the rebellious wires. To get 
into a carriage without making a mess of it required 
not a little skill, especially as many dresses were 
made of very light materials, such as tulle, gauze 
and lace. Husbands and fathers needed to be blessed 
with a large stock of patience and restive horses had 
to be well trained, for considerable time and much 
fine calculation were necessary on these trying occa- 
sions. It was almost impossible to shake hands with 
a child and very difficult to take a gentleman’s arm. 
In fact from this moment dates the custom which 
prevails to-day of not offering the arm in a drawing- 
room and particularly in the street. 

The inventor of the crinoline was Auguste Person, 
who died not many years ago in Champagne at the 
advanced age of almost eighty, I am told. I have 
also heard that he did not make much money from 
his invention, for he sold the patent for four thou- 

383 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


sand francs. But tFose who bought it gained over 
a million. For its popularity grew very rapidly. 
Toward 1860, all the elegant ladies were submissive 
to the tyranny of this very wide piece of stiff twill, 
surrounded with metal hoops. The crinoline was at 
first called in France “a cage,” and the women^who 
put on the new invention were said to be “caged.” 
It is easy to imagine the wit indulged in at their ex- 
pense. One of the “funny writers” of the Paris 
press likened gossiping paroquets to “the bearers of 
the cage, ’ ’ the new-fashioned petticoat. All this talk 
about it caused the article to sell and hence the rea- 
son why, commercially, the invention was most 
profitable. 

This strange fashion had been set by tall, stout 
women who are always very influential in the ele- 
gant world; but it was soon followed by all. Thin, 
small women persuaded themselves that “it suited 
their style of beauty,” which was not the case; and 
though their husbands and brothers protested and 
ridiculed them, still the crinoline continued to hold 
its sway. The Nain Jamie, Charivari, and Figaro, 
the annual theatrical “reviews,” and more preten- 
tious plays like that of Blum at the Vie Parisienne 
— all made fun of the iunovation, but its vogue did 
not begin to wane till towards the end of the Em- 
pire. Surprise is now sometimes expressed that it 
lasted so long. 

A friend has told me of a play given at a fash- 
ionable Paris dub in 1878, where, for one of the 
scenes, John Lewis Brown sketched two pictures. 
Both represented women of the world. In the one, 
the woman was spread out in a crinoline of the time 
of the Second Empire, while in the other, the woman 

384 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


was attired in the tightly squeezing, narrow cling- 
ing skirts then in fashion. Though not ten years 
had passed since the ladies had allowed themselves 
to be dressed as in the first instance, the actresses 
who were to take part in the play exclaimed: “How 
could we have allowed ourselves to he made such 
f riglits of r ’ And somebody present well remarked : 
“The same thing will be said in another decade of 
the present fashion, which goes to the other ex- 
treme.” Both criticisms, it seems to me, were just. 

Some years ago, an effort was made to bring back 
the crinoline, though in less exaggerated propor- 
tions. But, fortunately, the attempt failed. And 
yet, it cannot be denied that the fashion was becom- 
ing to certain women. All of them did not appear 
ridiculous in crinolines. At the court of the 
Tuileries, where dress was never carried too far, it 
cannot be said that the crinoline was ugly. The Em- 
press was not able to ignore the fashion but she al- 
ways kept the crinoline within reasonable bounds. 
Its final suppression, I always considered to be due 
to Worth, who was really a great fashion-maker. 
He did much to revive a taste for grace in attire. 
He modified the size of the skirt, while he gradually 
molded the shape of the body. Little by little he 
diminished the immense circumference of the hoops 
until they were quite done away with, or were re- 
placed by light cage-like affairs which held up the 
train behind. This sort of “dress improver” held 
its ground for a few years longer, and then it, too, 
was at last abandoned. Though this improver may 
be said to have been abnormal, it was not wholly in- 
artistic in some respects and on some persons. Per- 
haps the Empress’ own liking for short skirts, which 

385 



MEMOIES OP THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


all wore for walking at Saint Clond, Fontainebleau 
and Compiegne, bad something to do with this grad- 
ual modification of this portion of woman’s attire. 

Towards 1860, women’s hats were high pyramids 
covered with fruit and fiowers. They were very 
heavy and enlarged the head to a disproportionate 
size. This fashion, too, was destined to be changed 
little by little. It was mainly to Mme. Virot that 
the transformation of hats under the Empire was 
due. She threw open to view the back of the neck 
by doing away with the streamers or bavolets — 
a stiff pleated piece of material which enwrapped 
the neck and shoulders. The hats then became little 
string-bonnets, rather flat, and framing the face 
artistically, showing the hair. Here, as in every- 
thing else, ihe style was exaggerated in some cases, 
and the hats were so flat that they were called 
“plates.” But on the whole, this style of hat was 
becoming, was pretty and worn for a long time. 
They underwent many little changes and the strings 
were gradually suppressed. Nowadays, women of a 
certain age wear these little bonnets and efforts 
have been made to render them fashionable for the 
theaters, where high hats are such a nuisance. But 
this effort, unfortunately, has not met with success. 
The large Gainsborough hats and the Louis XVI 
shapes of the day, with their mass of feathers, flow- 
ers and fur tails, are the fortune of the milliners, 
who will, of course, keep them in fashion as long as 
possible. If you compare them with the creations of 
Virot or Ode, you will find that hats to-day cost three 
or four times more than they did under the Second 
Empire, and yet there are people who ever harp on 
the “extravagance of the Empire.” 

386 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


For traveling, and for walks at Compiegne and 
the other country residences, the Empress wore 
an oval-shaped hat, of medium size, adorned with 
ribbon bows and feathers of moderate length. These 
hats kept in fashion for some time. They are rela- 
tive^l^ simple, very practical and generally becom- 
ing to the face. 

The evening head dress was usually round dia- 
dems of flowers in which were placed diamonds like 
drops of dew. This style was very becoming to 
young faces. Older ladies wore crowns of foliage 
or jeweled diadems. Eugenie always liked to see 
her ladies attired in a way fitting their years. If 
there was a thing that she particularly disliked, it 
was to see young attire on those who were no longer 
youthful. I can never forget how her excellent read- 
er, Comtesse de Wagner, forgetting this rule on one 
occasion, appeared one evening, when she had 
passed seventy, got up in tulle, trimmed with red 
ribbons and with a nimbus of white roses round her 
head, like Ophelia! The Empress really could not 
go near her the whole evening. 

Eugenie went over her wardrobe twice each year 
and the dresses which could not be worn again were 
distributed among the waiting-women, who, I be- 
lieve, disposed of them at advantageous rates. Two 
rooms of the wardrobe apartments in the palace 
were used as work-rooms for the dress-makers. 
Here the Empress could have gowns made up in her 
own way. At the moment of the change of the sea- 
sons, shopmen were received in these rooms, and 
then it was that she chose materials and ordered 
a certain number of costumes. It was also in these 
rooms that the Empress would try them on when 

387 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

they were finished. Adjoining rooms were provided 
with oak closets with sliding doors, and here the 
gowns were kept till wanted. 

It was the custom at the Tuileries and the other 
Imperial residences for the Empress to appear in 
low-neck attire in the evening. When the company 
was small and during the winter season, she “gen- 
erally put on a long gown of black or blue velvet 
or of plain white satin, and also some jewels, one of 
her favorites being the clover leaf in emeralds and 
diamonds which was her first gift from the Em- 
peror. She wore sometimes what she used to call 
“political gowns.” They were of heavy brocade 
and lampas materials, rather sumptuous and un- 
wieldy, hut very effective, on the whole, I have al- 
ways thought. The Emperor especially liked these 
gowns. They were ordered mainly to encourage 
the Lyons silk trade, and were more richly decorated 
than most of her gowns, with passementerie and 
lace. 

The Empress never cared for loose morning robes 
and, in fact, never possessed a dressing-gown. She 
used the ordinary linen wraps which are generally 
employed when dressiug. The real reason for this 
was that she always preferred to dress fully the 
first thing in the morning. Perhaps I ought to 
amend this statement by saying that in 1865, the 
Empress did have a dressing-gown for a short time. 
The Prince Imperial had caught the measles and she 
wished to he near him during the night. So the 
reader, Mme. Carette, went to the Louvre shops and 
chose a ready-made red flannel dressing-gown, which 
Eugenie found very convenient. 

Of course she had to use a great many pairs of 

388 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 


shoes. The soiled ones -were given to the orphan- 
age Eugene Napoleon, founded with the money 
which the City of Paris had wished to spend on a 
necklace at the moment of her marriage. The white 
shoes were always kept for the young orphan girls 
who had arrived at the age for celebrating their first 
communion. 

The Emperor and the Empress always held that, 
as rulers of France, their duties were much more 
than political, especially in a country where art and 
letters stood so high. They tried to spread about 
our Court an atmosphere that was, as far as pos- 
sible, all-embracing. Thus, as has already beeh 
seen, the Empress took a particular interest in the 
fashions and did what she could to keep Paris the 
world’s center, for all that pertained to feminine 
attire; and in this effort it was generally conceded 
that she was on the whole successful. But they also 
gave much attention to art and above aU to dramatic 
art. The theaters, actors and actresses of Paris 
had been famous under aU regimes, and during the 
Second Empire the high standard was carefully kept 
up. Nor was it French talent alone which was wel- 
comed before the Paris footlights. Dramatic ar- 
tists from several foreign lands were applauded by 
French audiences, and they often owed their invi- 
tation to Paris either directly or indirectly to the 
expressed wishes of the Tuileries, A good example 
of this was given in 1855 during the Exhibition of 
that year, when occurred a series of dramatic per- 
formances which were most interesting in every 
respect. The incidents connected therewith will il- 
lustrate the intimate connection which then existed 
between the Court and the theatrical world which is 

389 



MEMOIES OE THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


the excuse for the introduction of the subject in this 
chapter. 

The famous Eaehel was on the point of leaving 
for a long vacation which had been granted her by 
the management of the Comedie Frangaise. It 
turned out to be an eternal vacation, since she came 
home only to die. But before she went, at the request 
of the Court, she played for an entire month the 
great works of Corneille and Eacine in which she 
excelled. After the performance of Phedre, which 
was a veritable triumph, she was really free, but 
consented in June to reappear at a gala evening 
given in honor of the King of Portugal and the 
Duke of Oporto. The Emperor and the Empress 
were present and led in the applause. The spec- 
tacle included a Hommage d CorneiUe, the Menteur, 
and Horace. 

As a matter of fact, this was not her last appear- 
ance, certain circumstances having determined 
Eaehel to remain some time longer at Paris. It was 
due, in fact, to a sort of competition between Eaehel 
and Eistori which gave the public many fine plays, 
greatly to the delight of Parisian society and the 
Court. 

Eistori, Marquise Capranica del Grille, who died 
in 1906, over eighty years old, had just carried off 
a series of victories at the Salle Ventadour in Frati- 
cesca di Rimini, Maria Stuardo, and other parts. 
She was then the idol of Paris; Lamartine wrote 
verses to her, and at one time it was thought she 
might appear at the Theatre Prangais. There were 
endless discussions concerning the talents of the two 
great artists. The Court was particularly interested 
in these honors shown the celebrated Italian trag- 

390 



THE OFFICIAL HOUSEHOLD 

edienne. The Emperor was then accused in certain 
circles in Italy of not doing all that was expected of 
him in the matter of bringing about a sort of politi- 
cal side to it — ^the Court did not let slip this occasion 
to please the Italian nation by honoring one of its 
great actresses. The Emperor and the Empress 
naturally led “in this good work” as the Emperor 
called it. 

Alexandre Dumas even maintained that Eistori 
was superior to Eachel. This the sovereigns both 
thought privately was perhaps going a little too far. 
The celebrated story-teller proposed a performance 
at the Opera in which the two tragediennes would 
appear, — Eistori in Maria Stuardo by MafPei, 
Eachel in Marie Stuart by Lebrun. Unfortunately, 
this proposal gave rise to much discussion, and 
many articles more or less bitter were written in 
the newspapers by the partisans of both the great 
artists. The Court deeply regretted all this. Of 
course, the proposed performance at the Opera did 
not take place. But Eachel was at length aroused 
and took up the gauntlet. She went secretly to see 
her rival play at the Salle Ventadour; she heard the 
loud cheers, the encores — and she fainted ! 

The result of this was that Eachel made another 
appearance on the scene. She wished to see if she 
had lost her former power and to make a supreme 
appeal to the public who seemed to be falling away 
from her. She had a great success in her classical 
parts, in Marie Stuart, and especially in Fhedre, 
which she played twice; in Andromaque, and the 
Moineaw de Leshie. The Emperor and the Em- 
press were present at several of these performances 

391 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


and "we stowed the veteran actress that she was fully 
appreciated at Court. 

A few days after this triumph Eachel left for 
America. In January, 1858, she succumbed to the 
malady of which she had felt the first attacks three 
years before, and which her American tour accele- 
rated. She remembered in her will the Emp*eror 
whom she admired and to whom she left a bust of 
Napoleon I by Canova. The Emperor was much 
touched by this act of the great tragedienne whom 
he had so often applauded, and always felt that this 
delicate attention was paid him for the part he and 
the Empress took in the famous competition of the 
summer of 1855. 



CHAPTEE XV 


EPISODES IN THE BMPBEOE’s LIEE 

The long range of buildings designed by the 
architect Visconti to connect the Louvre and Tuile- 
ries, was completed in 1857 and on August 14th in 
that year the Emperor and the Empress presided at 
the ceremony of their inauguration. When, on July 
25, 1852, Napoleon III laid the foundation stone, he 
expressed the hope that the work would be com- 
pleted in five years’ time, and his desire had been 
fulfilled, thanks first of all to Visconti, and, after the 
death of the famous architect, which occurred in 
1853, to Lefuel, who carried on the undertaking to 
the end, with unflagging zeal. In the beautifying of 
Paris, Napoleon III took as his model his great 
uncle. When a work was to be done, he asked expert 
opinion as to the shortest, not the longest, time re- 
quired to accomplish it, and then he required that it 
be done within this promised period and would take 
no excuse for any failure to keep the promise. The 
conduct of this Louvre-Tuileries work was a good 
example of the Emperor’s energy and expedition. 
No effort was spared to hasten its completion. One 
hundred and fifty sculptors and a host of decorators 
labored ceaselessly at the execution of the design, 
which comprised no less than fifteen htmdred sepa- 
rate objects for carving. During the year 1857 the 
number of workmen’s days reached three hundred 

393 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


and thirteen thousand exclusive of joiners, carpen- 
ters, and others. But the object vas attained and the 
building "was completed within the given time. It 
cost thirty-six millions of francs, and besides a beau- 
tiful building, uniting the two palaces, it opened up 
two new roadways to the public, one under the 
PavUion Sully for pedestrians and the other finder 
the Pavilion Richelieu for vehicles. Napoleon right- 
fully considered this work one of the finest material 
successes of his reign and more than once, on look- 
ing out of the Tuileries windows on these beautiful 
fresh fronts, did he express aloud his enthusiasm 
and contentment. 

He was wont to recall with keen pleasure the 
ceremonies of that day. It was two o’clock in the 
afternoon of August 14th, that the Emperor and the 
Empress, accompanied by princes and princesses of 
the Imperial family and their households, left the 
Tuileries, passed beneath the Triumphal Arch on 
the east side of the Tuileries and entered the Louvre 
by the Pavilion Denon. The State Minister, M. 
Fould, and the grand officers of the Crown awaited 
their arrival and conducted them through the gallery 
which was destiued to become a Museum of Sculp- 
ture, up the staircase of the Pavilion Moliere, 
whence they entered processionally into the grand 
hall where the ceremony was to take place. During 
this whole walk, Napoleon spoke on art with those 
about him and displayed his wonderful knowledge 
of out-of-the-way fine art subjects. 

Seats had been placed opposite the throne for the 
artists and workmen who had contributed by their 
talent or their labor to the construction of the edi- 
fice. The Emperor especially commanded that the 

394 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOE’S LIFE 

latter be given a worthy part in the proceedings. 
There was always a strong democratic strain run- 
ning through all that Napoleon III thought and did. 
The Minister of State made a speech, describing the 
Emperor’s plans and the manner in which they had 
bee§ executed, after which a number of medals and 
awards were distributed, and every one of the arti- 
sans, contractors and workmen was called up to the 
platform to receive from the Emperor’s own hand 
the reward which had been allotted to him. Then 
came the sovereign’s speech, recalling the different 
phases through which the Louvre passed under the 
Monarchy, the Empire and the Eepublio. ‘ ‘ The com- 
pletion of the Louvre,” he said in conclusion, “is 
not the caprice of a moment, it is the realization of 
a plan conceived for the greater glory of France, 
and sustained by the interest of our country during 
more than three hundred years.” 

It was a day of enthusiastic rejoicing. That eve- 
ning, a banquet, presided over by M. Fould, was 
given, the greater number of the four hundred and 
seventy guests present being workmen ; among these 
was a woman, the widow of a sawyer who, on the 
death of her husband, had obtained permission to 
take his place at the works. She was present as the 
Empress’ guest and at her special request. "When, 
the next day, the Emperor read in the public prints 
the account of this banquet and learned of the pres- 
ence of “your widow,” as he said quizzingly to the 
Empress, he remarked with a smOe: “Well, you see, 
there must always be a woman in it.” 

August 15th, the birthday of Napoleon and the 
national holiday of the Second Empire, was cele- 
brated with greater enthusiasm than usual this year. 

395 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

Tlie Parisians flocked to the Carrousel to see tke 
Louvre and Tuileries now joined in one great build- 
ing, remembering tbe bouses of all kinds, shops and 
bazaars, which five years before obstructed the 
space now occupied by superb squares and gardens. 
Everybody was high in praise of the splendid trans- 
formation and the name of the author of it aU was on 
every lip. The festivities closed by the Emperor 
himself distributing the medal of Saint Helena, 
which he had just instituted for the old comrades in 
arms of Napoleon I, to many military notabilities 
such as King Jerome, Marshal Vaillant, Admiral 
Hamelin, Marshal Baraguay d’Hilliers, Admiral 
Perceval Deschene, General Due de Plaisance, and 
General d’Ornano, names which mean much for dif- 
ferent reasons to all the friends of Bonapartism. 

The inauguration of “the new Louvre” was, 
therefore, one of those many red-letter days which 
characterized the early years of the Second Empire, 
on the memory of which the Emperor loved to dwell 
in the stormier years which followed. “When I said 
that the Empire stands for Peace,” he once re- 
marked, “this is what I meant by that much ridi- 
culed phrase. If wars came, it was not by my seek- 
ing. I much preferred events like this splendid 
artistic ceremony. We had many such during the 
Second Empire, and we would have had nothing else 
if I could have had my way. But circumstances were 
often stronger than individual desires.” 

Ever since the end of the war in Italy in 1859, the 
Emperor had cherished the thought of writing a 
history of Julius Csesar. He recoUected that Na- 
poleon at St. Helena had complained of many omis- 
sions in the Commentaries, and, moreover, the strik- 

396 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOR’S LIFE 


ing individuality of tlie Conqueror of G-aul attracted 
him singularly. So, filled with enthusiasm, lie drew 
up a plan of Ms intended work, in accordance with 
which it should comprise two distinct parts — the war 
against G-aul, and the Civil War, with a description 
of Eome and of the world in general at the time of 
Cffisar’s greatest power and fame. 

The work was commenced in 1860. The Emperor 
and Ms collaborators, M. Mocquard, his principal 
private secretary, and M. Maury, librarian at the 
Tuileries, member of the Institute and later direc- 
tor of the archives, started researches in all the chief 
libraries of Europe and especially in those of Paris 
and Eome, for everything that might in any way 
relate to the subject in question — ^manuscripts, 
plans, maps and dra-vrings. M. Eeynier at the Vat- 
ican, and M. Eenan at the Paris National Library, 
hunted for details with the greatest care and inde- 
fatigability. 

Topography and the question of fortifications 
were both to be treated with much detail in this re- 
constitution of the life of Caesar. Quite by chance 
the Emperor discovered an exceedingly devoted and 
very competent military collaborator in the person 
of Baron Stoffel, captain in the artillery stationed 
at Auxonne, where he occupied his leisure hours, 
wMch are not few in a garrison life, by writing a 
very complete and learned book on the fortifications 
of Alesia, the famous fortified capital of Vercinge- 
torix, the Gallic leader who was defeated by Caesar. 
His treatise was submitted to the Emperor for ap- 
proval. Napoleon found it most interesting and had 
it published in full in the Moniteur, the official jour- 
nal of the Empire. He then invited Baron Stoffel to 

397 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


enter the Imperial military household and entrusted 
him with a series of topographical missions in 
various parts of ancient Gaul, and later on, in Italy. 
By this means, the plans of battles, which are only 
vaguely indicated in the Commmtaries, were fully 
described. Baron Stoffel also undertook extensive 
researches of a more literary nature, and when fhe 
Emperor, for political reasons, finally abandoned 
the idea of the second portion of the proposed work, 
this officer published under his own name a History 
of the Civil War, derived from notes prepared by 
the Emperor himself, or by those acting under his 
orders. 

Some curiosity has at times been expressed as to 
who were the other collaborators of the Emperor in 
this important literary undertaking. I am in a posi- 
tion to give the facts on this point. 

To the three principal collaborators who have just 
been named, may be added Prosper Merimee, who 
gave many suggestions and abandoned his intention 
of publishing a Eoman history, for which he had 
already collected a large amount of material. M. 
Victor Duruy, the distinguished historian and Min- 
ister of Public Instruction under the Empire, had 
numerous conversations on the subject with Napo- 
leon III, and gave him valuable notes set out in the 
form of questions and answers. M. de Saulcy, the 
well-known antiquarian, undertook the numismatic 
part of the labor, which he was well qualified to do. 

Besides consulting Duruy and other historians 
who had written on Eoman history, from Lamartine 
to the Comte de Champagny and M. Troplong, the 
well-known jurisconsulte, the Emperor examined 
carefully the works of Mommsen, the great German 

398 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOE’S LIFE 

historian. A yonng man attached to the Louvre Mu- 
seum, M. Frohner, "who was highly recommended by 
the Grand Duke of Baden, came several times each 
week to the Tuileries and spent several hours trans- 
lating and commenting on the opinions of the Ger- 
man writer. 

At this period the Emperor left the Empress’ 
apartments about eight o’clock, every evening, and 
remained in his private apartments till a very late 
hour. But if he ceased writing before half past 
eleven, he would often return for a cup of tea with 
Eugenie and her friends ; otherwise he would go on 
working till the small hours of the morning. The 
chief valet, Felix, had great trouble in drawing him 
from his labor. “Sire,” he would say, “it is mid- 
night,” or “half past twelve” or “past one 
o’clock,” as the case might be, adding a moment 
after; “His Majesty’s doctors have prohibited such 
late work.” “Yes, yes, but this isn’t work,” replied 
the Emperor smiling; and he would often remain a 
considerable time longer at his writing table. 

But, notwithstanding the'se late watches, the Em- 
peror always rose early. And yet, at this very 
moment, his enemies accused him of leading a life 
entirely devoted to pleasure and laziness. How little 
they knew him, and how little they knew of many of 
the other virtues which dwelt within the four walls 
of the Tuileries, where these ill-judging critics pre- 
tended to see only unworthiness. Nothing pained the 
Emperor and the Empress more than these unfair 
and unfriendly judgments. 

Besides these scholars and archivists who lent 
their .competent collaboration to the Emperor, he 
always counted among his most valued cooperators 

399 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


M. Anselme Petetin, director of the Imperial Print- 
ing Office, who personally supervised the press-work, 
which was most beautifully executed, and M. Pran- 
ceschini Pietri, who had been for some years one of 
the Emperor’s most trusted private secretaries and 
who acted as an intelligent intermediary between the 
Emperor and his correspondents or artists. 

The above mentioned collaborators and a half 
dozen others whose names have not been given, 
shared in the sales of the work, the second edition of 
which was brought out by the late M. Henri Plon, 
the well-known Paris publisher. It sold very well in 
France and abroad, as the share of each collaborator 
came to about twenty thousand francs. 

The great quarto volume, 'the first edition, was 
given by the Emperor to his friends and to a number 
of scholars in Europe and the world in general, with 
a few words written by himself on the fly-leaf. It 
was an exceptionally fine specimen of printing and 
binding. 

The work attracted considerable attention not 
only in France but in all civilized countries, where 
historians and critics devoted long articles to it. 
Some criticized certain passages in which the Em- 
peror appeared, by a clever use of parallels arising 
in the course of the events described, to explain the 
Coup d’Etat. M. Duruy wanted all such sentences 
struck out, but the Emperor refused, saying: “Since 
similar events offer an occasion for making such 
comparisons, I do not see why I should not take 
advantage of them, especially as it is the nephew of 
a second Csesar who is trying to write the life of the 
founder of the Eoman Empire. The Emperor’s 
theory of a providentially appointed man, bom to 

400 



EPISODES IN THE BMPEEOE’S LIFE 


rule, naturally served as a target for the enemies of 
the Empire. The declarations on this point of Hegel 
and Cousin were evidently forgotten, by these bitter 
partisans, as was also Mommsen’s remark that “cer- 
tain men are bom to command nations as the wind 
commands the clouds.” 

(Jh the other hand, it was admitted that the Em- 
peror did not exaggerate his hero’s qualities as an 
excuse for his faults. Caesar’s cmel treatment of 
the gloriously defeated Vercingetorix was in no wise 
attenuated; but, at the same time, the author re- 
minded his readers that the conquest of Gaul was 
the first step in the civilization of France, and, 
therefore, was of very great importance from the 
point of view of French nationality. The sequence 
of chapters was generally praised, as also the clear 
and sober style, and the great usefulness of the 
work, geographically, was also pointed out. 

Merimee, who, as we have seen, was to some 
extent a collaborator and counselor, devoted two 
articles to the Life of Ccesar in the Journal des 
Savants, the celebrated of&cial periodical of French 
scholars. These articles, where praise was by no 
means unmixed with criticism of a rather adverse 
kind, satisfied both the Emperor and the Institute. 
Silvestre de Sacy, Prevost Paradol, and many other 
French and foreign critics of weight also expressed 
their opinion of the work, and all united in praising 
its scientfic value, though some condemned the the- 
ories which it set forth and advocated. 

Two opinions concerning this work are especially 
worthy of being consideredj^ as they come from de- 
termined adversaries of thefempire and at the same 
time from clever writers, quotations in this con- 

401 



MEMOIRS OE THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


nection have been revised and are not taken from a 
version, which, I believe, has already appeared in 
print somewhere. 

George Sand, notwithstanding her republican con- 
victions spoke of the book in the following manner, 
when writing to a friend : 

“From a literary point of view, the work is really 
without a flaw, and that does not mean that it lacks 
attractiveness or color; all is marvelously clear, 
sober, vivid and full. It is without doubt the result 
of great labor, but nowhere is there evidence of 
effort or confusion. Its pages appear to flow freely 
from the lips of an erudite thinker who sums up the 
works of all the ancient historians with such facility 
that one fancies one can hear each of them giving 
this synopsis of his own book. The personal appre- 
ciations are very brief, but excellently expressed, 
and if the color is sober, the design is aU the firme^' 
and the shaft strikes more keenly. To give a fair 
idea of the volume it would be necessary to quote 
several passages, for no one has expressed things 
better. A work so eminently both by its erudite tal- 
ent and high sentiments, must tend to raise the level 
of ideas and to help the world’s progress. Convic- 
tion alone produced it, not the desire to support a 
theory or to show off an intelleotual capacity which 
had already been proven.” 

This article caused much discussion and George 
Sand was called upon to defend her position. She 
was one of the earliest critics to read the book and 
adds: “My report is the first which was made, and 
consequently my judgment was perfectly independ- 
ent and I considered that the book had great merit. 
I was absolutely sure that it was entirely, and with- 

402 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROE’S LITE 

out any correction, the work of him who signed it. 
Therefore my impartial praise was due to his real 
talent.” This was a notably friendly criticism and 
the Emperor saw that his thanks reached the dis- 
tinguished writer of it. 

Ximenes Doudan, the delicate essayist of the Or- 
leanlst group, who so often spoke bitterly against 
the Empire, confessed on this occasion : “I am read- 
ing the Life of CcBsar and I have felt no compunc- 
tious shivers while perusing it. To be impartial, I 
find there is a certain merit in the book. The con- 
quest of Italy by the Romans is, perhaps, much too 
long for an introduction, but the whole thing is 
brought out with a certain vigor and independence 
of judgment.” 

The question has been sometimes asked as to just 
how much of this history was really the work of 
Napoleon III himself. The answer is that the idea 
of making such a book was wholly the Emperor’s 
and many of the pages were entirely written by his 
hand, while not one was left untouched by his prac- 
ticed pen. Much of the purely historic and technical 
matter was furnished by the specialists and scholars 
whose names have been given above. They pro- 
vided the skeleton, but it was the Emperor who put 
the flesh on these dry bones and gave life and color 
to the whole. It must not be forgotten that Napoleon 
HI, like Napoleon I, had had considerable training 
in the art of composition and book-making before he 
came to the throne. He used to say sometimes; “I 
often feel that I would like to lay down the scepter 
for a season and take up the quiU. The only risk 
would be that I would never wish to go back to the 

403 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


seepter again. ‘Cacoetlies scribendi’ ought to have 
been in my armorial bearings.” 

After glancing over the first copy of the Ccesar 
just fresh from the press, he turned to the Empress 
and exclaimed with a smile: “We have two children 
now, though you are the mother of only one of them, 
and the better one, of course.” One of the fond 
dreams of his exile was to find the time and health 
to revise this Life of Ccesar, and the accomplishment 
of this desire was repeatedly pressed upon him by a 
famous London publisher who probably saw a com- 
mercial profit in the undertaking. But all the Em- 
peror had in yiew was to render a good book still 
better. 

The Emperor did all in his power to bring over to 
the Second Empire intellectual Prance, fully aware 
of the important part played in a nation by its 
writers, professors, artists and scientists. This was 
a difficult task and Napoleon was only partly suc- 
cessful in his bold and wise effort. The whole Insti- 
tute, and chiefly that section of it known as the 
French Academy, formed an almost constant center 
of opposition during the Second Empire, though 
there were a few short periods of tranquillity, when 
the two combatants rested on their arms. 

The weapons employed by the members of the 
Institute were epigrams and more or less trans- 
parent belittling allusions by means of which it 
was hoped to undermine the government. The Or- 
leanist and clerical element was very powerfully 
represented in the different sections of the Institute, 
and, by joining force with the republicans, they 
managed to domineer, and tried to force on their 
colleagues candidates for election who were openly 

404 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEBOE’S LIFE 

hostile to the Empire. This is not the place to ex- 
amine these academic quarrels too minutely, and I 
will glance only at the principal ones which the gov- 
ernment took more especially to heart. 

Defeated in their political hopes hy the Coup 
d’Etat, the representatives of the old political 
partfes in the Institute determined to take their 
revenge. The first warning of this kind which the 
government of the Prince-President received was 
given even before “the 2nd of December,” by the 
choice of Montalembert to succeed to the seat in the 
French Academy made vacant by the death of the 
historian Droz. Montalembert had not refused the 
government’s support at this election. Quite the 
contrary; he came forward as the ofScial candidate. 
But, nevertheless, his election was significant, for it 
meant, as the Emperor well expressed it in a private 
conversation at that moment, “the defence of tem- 
poral power and religious liberty,” and it even gave 
rise to a slight dispute with the Elysee, the Presi- 
dent hesitating to give his consent that Montalem- 
bert ’s reception discourse at the Academy be 
printed in the exact terms in which he had delivered 
it. Though Prince Louis Napoleon and this cele- 
brated liberal did not always agree in the field of 
politics, they often met in a friendly way on other 
and less slippery grounds. 

At the same time, there was another squabble with 
the government concerning the choice of the per- 
manent secretaries of some of the sections of the In- 
stitute. The Academy of Fine Arts dared not nom- 
inate M. Vitet, the distinguished art critic, who was 
known to be a sworn enemy of the Empire, but chose 
in his stead the musician Halevy. This action leav- 

405 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

ing a chair vacant, M. Hippolyte Portonl, Minister 
of Public Instruction, was elected ; M. Elie de Beau- 
mont, Senator, replaced Francois Arago, on his 
death, as Permanent Secretary of the Academy of 
Science, and Marshal Vaillant was elected an hon- 
orary academician in this same section of the Insti- 
tute. These nominations were important e?)nces- 
sions granted to the government, though at the same 
time the French Academy showed itself openly hos- 
tile. Alfred de Musset, the poet, who replaced Mer- 
cier-Dupaty, the dramatist, could not be considered 
an enemy of the regime, but Berryer, the famous 
lawyer, who was chosen at the same time, had fig- 
ured as an “irreconcilable” ever since his momen- 
tary arrest during the Coup d’Etat. He made his 
opposijtion, in this connection, a personal matter. 
The eloquent defender of Prince Louis Napoleon 
before the Chamber of Peers in 1840 after the Bou- 
logne affair, now the sworn enemy of the govern- 
ment, refused to carry his reception speech to the 
Tuileries, according to custom, and wrote to M. 
Mocquard, secretary to the Emperor, saying that 
the manner in which he had been treated in Decem- 
ber, 1851, rendered such a step impossible. He 
added that he thought he had the “right to abstain 
from a formality which would perhaps be painful 
not alone to himself.” Berryer ’s letter and M. Moc- 
quard’s reply thereto attracted considerable atten- 
tion at the time. The latter said among other things 
that “the Emperor regrets that in the eyes of M. 
Berryer, political interests outweigh the academi- 
cian’s duties. His presence at the Tuileries would 
not have caused the embarrassment he appears to 
fear. His Majesty occupying so high a position 

406 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOR’S LIFE 


could have seen in the Academy’s chosen candidate 
only the orator and author; the adversary of to-day 
would have been remembered only as the former 
defender.” But Berry er did not not go to the Tuile- 
ries and remained in his self -chosen isolation, as far 
as the Second Empire was concerned, to the end of 
his life. 

M. Fortoul reorganised the Academy of Moral 
and Political Sciences, of the Institute, so that it 
became possible to introduce into that section ten 
important men belonging to the government, diplom- 
acy and the army. By means of these nominations — ■ 
much criticized of course, by the opposition — the 
former majority in that section was changed; in- 
stead of being anti-governmental, it was now friend- 
ly to the Empire. This diminutive literary coup 
d’etat had a good effect on the official learned world 
and accomplished its purpose. The French Acad- 
emy, warned by this example, became more cautious 
and its epigrams and opposition showed a somewhat 
less virulent spirit. For a certain period new mem- 
bers were chosen unanimously. Thus, Mgr. Dupan- 
loup. Bishop of Orleans, Sylvestre de Sacy, Legouve, 
Ponsard, the dramatic poet, and Biot, the mathema- 
tician, all entered the Academy without difficulty. 
An attempt was made to obliterate party lines. The 
Due Victor de Broglie, son-in-law of Mme. de Stael 
and former Minister under Louis Philippe, also 
entered without much opposition. Such, however, 
was not the case when Comte de Falloux was 
brought forward. Violently attacked by the repub- 
lican press, but supported by the Catholics, the 
author of the Education law of 1850 had to fight 
against a powerful competitor, Emile Augier, then 

407 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


at the height of his renown. Falloux was victorious, 
h-owever, though Augier was elected some months 
later, defeating Victor de Laprade, who later suc- 
ceeded to Musset. The introduction into the Acad- 
emy of these brilliant men was a moral defeat for 
the Second Empire, but by the election of Jules 
Sandeau, the friends of literature and the govern- 
ment were in their turn victorious. 

De Tocqueville’s death gave rise to vigorous com- 
petition in the Academy. An important candidate 
arose, Father Laeordaire, the celebrated CathoHo 
pulpit orator, who was proposed, not by his core- 
ligionists, Montalembert and Falloux, but by Cousin 
and Guizot. Laeordaire, supported by the religious 
party, but not opposed by the government, had, in 
the Academy, the liberals and free-thinkers, es- 
pecially Merimee, as opponents. His election was a 
triumph not so much of the government as of Ca- 
tholicism and his reception speech was a great event 
in the intellectual circles of the Second Empire. 

Until then the Empress had taken care to remain 
a stranger to all the intrigues and ceremonies of the 
Academy. But she made it a point to be at the sit- 
ting in which Laeordaire was “received” and in 
which Guizot replied to Laeordaire ’s oration. This 
act of hers was pronounced “fine and courageous” 
in the Catholic camp, but was much criticized by 
the imperialists of the Left who did not share her 
religious views. But the real reason for Eugenie’s 
presence was simply that she wished to witness an 
Academy “reception,” which is one of the sights of 
Paris. This was the first time the Empress had ever 
sat “under the cupola” and she greatly enjoyed the 
eloquence and learning of these two famous leaders 

408 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEBOR’S LIFE 

of Protestant and Catholic thought. Laoordaire, by 
the way, only went three or four times to the Acad- 
emy, for he died some months after his admission, 
much to my regret, for I always considered him one 
of the greatest preachers of the church. 

Lacordaire’s vacant chair was filled by Prince 
Albert de Broglie — another Orleanist and anti-Bon- 
apartist victory, which was followed by a struggle, 
where thirteen ballots were taken for the election of 
a member to succeed Scribe. Octave Feuillet, the 
novelist, supported by the Tuileries, finally carried 
the day. Then the Orleano-Catholics again tri- 
umphed with M. Dufaure and the Comte de Came. 
In 1865, Camille Doucet, an ardent Bonapartist, de- 
feated the poet Autran, who, however, succeeded in 
obtaining a seat in 1868. Jules Janin, the celebrated 
critic of the Journal des Debats, a candidate some 
years previously, entered the Academy in 1870. His 
opposition to the Empire was one of the causes of 
the delay. Meanwhile, were elected, Cuvillier- 
Pleury, former preceptor of the Duo d’Aumale and 
consequently an Orleanist, and Prevost-Paradol, the 
liberal writer who later became an open ally of the 
Empire, and then, as though filled with remorse at 
his change of face, took his life with his own hands. 
He was French Minister at Washington at the 
moment of his suicide, which was largely due to the 
outbreak of the Franco-German War. 

Father Gratry and Jules Favre were the two anti- 
podes in candidates elected during the last years of 
the Empire. The government did not seek to oppose 
the former, who was a talented orator and the candi- 
date of the Catholic party; but it was pained by the 
coalition set on foot between republicans and Cath- 

409 



MEMOIES OE THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


olics in order to bring in one of its sworn enemies, 
Jules Favre, the pronounced republican orator and 
leader in the Legislative Body. Comte d’Hausson- 
viUe easily gained the seat made vacant by the death 
of Viennet. This was another Orleanist victory and 
did not give us any pleasure at the Tuileries though 
the Emperor fully recognized the talent of the 
father of the later member of the Academy, whose 
wife, too, was a woman of letters of considerable 
merit. 

Comte de Champagny, son of a minister of the 
First Empire and consequently a partisan of Napo- 
leon III, having defeated, in the struggle for Berry- 
er’s seat, M. Duvergier de Hauranne, the friends of 
the latter, who had offered their votes to the sup- 
porters of the government in the Academy, in order 
to insure Theophile Gautier’s success in obtaining 
the third seat then vacant, determined to revenge 
themselves. So when Empis, the dramatic author, 
died and his seat was to be filled, they supported the 
candidature of Auguste Barbier against Theophile 
Gautier. Thanks to this maneuver, the forgotten 
poet of lambes, the talented author of inflamed 
strophes dashed into the very face of the founder of 
the reigning dynasty, Napoleon I, whose centenary 
was shortly to be celebrated, defeated by a few votes, 
on the fourth ballot, the marvelous story-teller and 
great writer, Theophile Gautier, whose only crime 
was to be supported by the government. The Im- 
perial party had some ground for showing dis- 
pleasure at this last election, as had also the true 
friends of literature; and the Emperor excused the 
three last-named academicians — Jules Favre, 
d’Haussonville and Barbier — from making the cus- 

410 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROE’S LIFE 


tomary visit to the head of the State which always 
follows an admission to the French Academy. “I 
don’t wish to force anybody to do homage to the 
Empire,” Napoleon III said one day to me d propos 
of these elections. “If these brilliant Frenchmen 
can’t appreciate the grandeur of the Napoleonic 
ideS, it is their loss. Bonapartism is a historic fact 
and academicians who have not yet learned this are 
to he pitied. We move on and leave them in the 
wake.” 

The very important election of M. Emile Ollivier, 
who succeeded his friend, Lamartine, took place in 
April, 1870. This candidature had been proposed by 
Montalembert, who died before his candidate was 
accepted by the Academy, and then events so quick- 
ened their pace, that the Empire fell before M. 
Emile Ollivier could be oflScially received into the 
august company. When, later, he sought to defend, 
in his reception speech, the sovereign whose minis- 
ter he had been, he encountered violent hostility on 
the part of some of his colleagues. Having refused 
most decidedly to modify the document as he was 
asked to do, M. Ollivier preferred to suppress it 
altogether. This happened in 1874, long after the 
faU of the Empire of which he was the last Prime 
Minister, and the episode was an excellent finale of 
the long and often bitter conflict between the Insti- 
tute, especially the section which is the gem of this 
famous body — ^the French Academy — and the gov- 
ermnent of the Empire. In the person and talent of 
Emile Ollivier, Napoleon III found a defender 
worthy of the cause. Living to an advanced age, M. 
Ollivier was able in brilliant conversation and on the 
lecture platform, where his oratory always made a 

411 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

deep impression, valiantly to support this mneh- 
ahused regime and, in a stately history of the Sec- 
ond Empire, to place his views on record. If the bat- 
tle of the Institute had given the Empire no other 
warrior than Emile Ollivier, the Bonapartists should 
have no reason to complain. 

One of the causes of the Empress’ greatest 
anxiety during the Second Empire was always the 
danger of some physical harm happening to the Em- 
peror. And no wonder, for there were no less than 
nine conspiracies against his life between 1853 and 
1870. The many attempts to destroy Louis Philippe 
were still fresh in the public mind and unquestion- 
ably suggested a similar dastardly act, in many 
weak and ill-balanced heads, against the person of 
the Emperor. The assassination of a monarch seems 
to have a hypnotizing effect on some addled brains. 
Later, when the Prince Imperial, a fully-grown 
daild, began to move about more or less alone, both 
the Emperor and the Empress were always some- 
what nervous lest some misfortune should befall the 
only direct heir to the throne. But even a mother’s 
solicitude for an only son gave way before the 
greater danger to which the Emperor was ever ex- 
posed from the wild act of some crank or some 
political murderer. 

Eugenie’s old friend and most faithful private 
counselor M. Pietri, has drawn up for me a list of 
the attempts on the life of the Emperor. He has 
accompanied this list with many curious facts drawn 
from numerous different sources to which I have 
added several known only to myself. Prom this 
material, I have prepared the following pages, which 
present a peculiar interest. Among other things, 

412 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROE’S LIFE 


they show that though attempts are often made on 
the life of the heads of states, these abominable acts 
fortunately seldom succeed. This fact should give 
new courage to rulers and should deter evil-doers 
from making these terrible etforts to destroy worthy 
sovereigns. This is, indeed, the chief reason why 
I hSve ventured in these memoirs to touch on this 
rather repelling subject. 

The first of these attempts on the Emperor’s life 
was that known as “the hippodrome plot.” It was 
discovered by the police on June 6, 1853, and was 
the work of a secret society of workmen associated 
later with a secret society of students. Having failed 
at the hippodrome, the same conspirators tried to 
carry out their scheme at the Opera Comique on 
July 5th, but failed. In November, eighteen conspir- 
ators were sentenced to heavy penalties, and two 
months later, some forty or fifty more arrests were 
made and all those arrested condemned. Among 
these was a young student of twenty-two, Arthur 
Banc, who later became a senator, and the editor-in- 
chief of a Paris daily. 

That same year, on September 12th, an attempt 
was made to blow up a train from Calais to Tour- 
nay, in which the Emperor was to have traveled on 
a visit to the King of the Belgians. Fortunately, the 
visit was countermanded at the last moment. The 
plan was to place on the line a tube containing some 
four pounds of fulminate of mercury, which was 
connected, by means of a carefully hidden wire, 
with a Bunsen battery placed some hundreds of 
yards from the station. It was calculated to explode 
as the Emperor’s ear passed over it. 

Both of these plots had been hatched in France. 

413 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


But all those which followed were organized outside 
of France, chiefly in England, where the Italian 
societies were generally the instigators, the cele- 
brated Mazzini being the main inspirer and the ref- 
ugees in London his instruments. This was an ex- 
ceedingly dangerous body of men, for they pre- 
tended to be actuated solely by political motives, and 
Mazzini was a genius for conspiracy. His principal 
rule was that if an effort of this sort was to have 
a chance of success, only a few persons should be 
admitted to the secret. So he never sent more than 
four or five men to France to carry out a plot. 

The first of these Italian attempts took place on 
April 28, 1855. About five o’clock in the evening, the 
Emperor was riding up the Champs Elysees, accom- 
panied by an aide-de-camp and followed by an 
equerry, when suddenly, an individual, coming from 
one of the side-walks, advanced cahnly towards the 
Emperor and fired two shots at him from a double- 
barreled pistol. The Emperor was not hit. One of 
the policemen on duty, named Alessandri, rushed 
forward, seized the villain by the throat and was 
about to dispatch him, when the Emperor, who al- 
most alone in the vast crowd had not lost his sang- 
froid, ordered that his life be spared. When the 
prisoner was searched, it was found that he had on 
him another pistol and a dagger. The Emperor, 
escorted by a vast concourse of people of all condi- 
tions, returned to the Tuileries. The Empress heard 
and saw the crowd as it approached the palace, and 
at first, not knowing what had happened, feared it 
was a mob bent on evfi. She hurried to meet the 
Emperor at the entrance of the Tuileries, and as they 

414 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOE’S LIFE 


embraced, be said smilingly : ‘ ‘ This is a funny land, 
where men are shot at like sparrows.” 

The would-be assassin’s name was Giovanni 
Pianori. He was a shoemaker by trade and had 
come over from England. He was condemned to 
death and executed. But he would reveal nothing, 
so thsit it was never known if the man had any 
accomplices. All this terrible mystery that sur- 
rounded these awful deeds added to the horror 
which they inspired in the Empress, and there were 
moments, following each of these attempts when she 
wished that they were far from the dangerous 
throne and living in private life in some secluded 
spot. But when the Empress spoke in this mood, the 
Emperor would say: “But in your quiet retreat, a 
tree might fall on us and kill us, or, if we remained 
in the city, a tile might tumble on our heads!” 

Cardinal Antonelli, the Pope’s secretary of state, 
was on very good terms with the Emperor at this 
time, as was, in fact, the whole Papal court, so 
thankful they were for the care which France had 
for Eoman interests; and he kept the court in- 
formed concerning the movements of dangerous 
characters both in Italy and at London. For in- 
stance, the Cardinal warned the government that 
Pianori ’s brother was coming from Italy to kill the 
Emperor and revenge this brother’s death. This 
precious information reached Paris six hours before 
the arrival of the would-be assassin. He was, in con- 
sequence, arrested at the railway station as he left 
the train, was tried and sent to Cayenne where he 
died. 

The eagerness of Italian revolutionists to destroy 
the Emperor was because they considered that his 

415 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

support of the Pope prevented the complete realiza- 
tion of Italian unity. The Emperor once told me 
that he had learned that Amedee Deleau, the agi- 
tator, had said: “Napoleon is decided to support 
the Pope at any cost, consequently we must over- 
throw him by every possible means. Italian or 
French, we have the same interest in his fall, ft is 
the justice of the people which must treat this case. ” 
This theory of the solidarity of the Pope and the 
Emperor was not wholly false. The Empress always 
favored it. The Emperor defended the Holy 
Father to the utmost limit, and consequently, the 
good understanding with Italy was of no practical 
value in 1870, because we retained French troops in 
Rome. As soon as we were forced to withdraw them, 
the Papacy fell into the hands of its enemies. Na- 
poleon has since been blamed for this, and looked at 
from a militaiy and purely political point of view, 
there is, I confess, ground for this blame. But one 
must not forget the moral and religious side of the 
question. The Emperor and the Empress were 
Christians, Roman Catholics, Papists, and they 
could not stand aside and see religious interests sac- 
rificed for political interests. 

Another plot, organized in London in 1857, by 
Tibaldi, Bartoletti and Grilli, was financed and di- 
rected by Mazzini. It was considered that the most 
important feature of this conspiracy, which was 
fortunately detected before it could be executed, was 
the presence in it of Ledru-Rollin, the ultra-repub- 
lican leader, who had been banished from the coun- 
try. It showed that the French republicans were 
now hand in hand with the Italian agitators. “I 
have Italy and Paris against me,” remarked the 

416 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROR’S LIFE 


Emperor when he was given the details of the plot ; 
but I have Prance with me ; and that is enough.’ ’ 

I now come to the most notorious of all these ter- 
rible machinations. An extraordinary gala perform- 
ance was given at the Opera on Thursday, January 
14, 1858, for the benefit of the famous barytone Mas- 
sol. The program comprised a fragment of the 
second act of Wilhelm Tell, with Mme. Marie Dussy, 
and Messrs. Renard, Chin and Massol in the principal 
parts; fragments of Maria Stuart by Schiller, with 
Mme. Ristori in the leading role; the second act of 
La Mueta de Portici ; and finally the ballet from the 
Masked Ball of Gustavus 11. 

The Emperor and the Empress had promised to 
be present at half past eight, the reigning Duke of 
Saxe-Cobourg awaited the arrival of the Imperial 
carriage at the foot of the grand staircase. The 
night was very fine and the boulevards and streets 
all round the Opera, which was then situated in the 
Rue Le Peletier, were crowded. At the half hour the 
Imperial procession turned into the Rue Le Peletier 
with a group of lancers. First came a carriage con- 
taining the officers on duty, and then the landau bear- 
ing the Emperor, the Empress and General Comte 
Roguet, aide-de-camp. The Imperial carriage 
slackened its pace when the chief entrance to the 
theater was reached, in order to enter the special 
passage reserved for the sovereigns at the far end 
of the portico. At that very moment three succes- 
sive explosions were heard. A bomb had been 
thrown behind the officer’s carriage and in front of 
the Imperial landau, a second one had fallen near 
the carriage to the left and a third had rolled under 
the carriage itself. 


417 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

It is impossible to describe tbe emotion and alarm 
■which seized -upon the crowd. The gas lights illum- 
inating the front of the edifice were extinguished, 
the a-vming protecting the sovereign’s entrance was 
tom to threads, the windows in the portico and the 
neighboring houses were shattered to atoms, frag- 
ments of glass and splinters of wood were mingled 
■with the projectiles which fell into the carriage, the 
Emperor’s hat was pierced by a shot, while the Em- 
press’ gown was covered with blood and it was 
thought at first that she had been wounded. General 
Roguet received a violent blow below the ear which 
caused an alarming loss of blood, and deeply af- 
fected Eugenie and Napoleon. Were there any other 
bombs ready to be thrown? was the question asked 
on every side. 

The police quickly opened the carriage door to 
allow the sovereigns to alight. The Empress thought 
at first that the police were assassins trying to mur- 
der the Emperor and threw herself in front of him to 
protect him with her body. But she immediately saw 
her mistake, when the Emperor, who did not for a 
moment lose his presence of mind, addressing the 
police ofiScers said: “How can we alight? Tou have 
not let down the steps.” Then it was that the Em- 
press learned the true character of these brave and 
devoted men. 

How many had been wounded by the Italian con- 
spirators’ bombs? was another question on every- 
body’s lips. This could not immediately be ascer- 
tained. It was kno^wn, however, that the three foot- 
men and the coachman of the Imperial carriage were 
wounded, that some lancers in the escort had fallen 
dead, while others were grievously hurt, and that the 

418 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOE’S LIFE 

same fate had been shared hy several women and 
children in the crowd, by some of the Paris Guards, 
and pohcemen who were on duty at the theater 
entrance. 

The panic was generally outside the theater, and 
inside the emotion was also considerable. After the 
first orders had been given for assistance to the 
injured, the Emperor and the Empress advanced 
towards the royal bos. Then she found that the 
suite was not complete, and that Mme. de Sancy de 
Parabere and another lady of the palace, pushed by 
the crowd into the study occupied by Babin, the 
theatrical costumer, got lost in the dark corridors. 
So for a few anxious moments Eugenie feared that 
these faithful companions had met with harm. 

As the Emperor and the Empress entered their 
box, the entire audience arose and cheered and 
cheered again with indescribable enthusiasm. They 
repeatedly bowed in acknowledgment of this warm 
greeting and then sat down quietly as the perform- 
ance was about to begin. It was Wilhelm Tell. 
Though throughout these trying moments Eugenie 
succeeded in retaining her presence of mind, and 
tried to let no sign appear of the deep emotion she 
was laboring under, nevertheless -she was exceed- 
ingly anxious until the messenger sent in haste to 
the Tuileries returned and assured the Emperor and 
the Empress that the Prince Imperial was safe and 
sound. 

In the meantime the entertainment continued 
without any alteration in the program. Even the 
masked baU ballet, which represents the murder of 
Gustave 11 of Sweden, was given just as it stood. 
Throughout the performance, the audience ap- 

419 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

planded wildly, turning from time to time to the 
Imperial box, especially at the moment when Mme. 
Eistori gave the passage where Marie Stuart, speak- 
ing to Mortimer, says: ‘‘H braeeio del sicariol E 
questo il solo, il mio vero terrore!” Calm and un- 
moved, the Emperor cast at Mme. Eistori a glance 
full of an expression that the great tragedienne 
never forgot, as she afterwards told me. 

The Emperor and the Empress remained until the 
end of the performance, during the progress of 
which they were visited in their box, where news was 
brought them concerning the wounded, by King 
Jerome, Prince Napoleon, Princess Mathilde, Prin- 
cess Murat, the marshals, several members of the 
Diplomatic Corps and many high functionaries. 
The sincere sympathy expressed by these relatives 
and friends touched them both very much and made 
a lasting impression upon them. It was their first 
experience of this tragic nature, and the memory of 
it was never entirely effaced from Eugenie’s mind. 

The news of the outrage reached the Palais Eoyal 
just at the moment when, in the drawing-room of 
Prince Napoleon, a proverb by Alfred de Vigny en- 
titled : Quitte pour la peur, was being played. The 
Prince immediately drove to the theater, and rushed 
to the Imperial box, as has just been said, to con- 
gratulate his cousin on his fortunate escape. The 
Emperor thanked him sincerely and added: “You 
had better return to your guests ; the play you have 
chosen bears an appropriate title” — a good example 
of the Emperor’s calmness in moments of danger 
and of his gifts for the apropos, which was, indeed, 
remarkable. 

"When the Emperor and the Empress left the 

420 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEEOE’S LIFE 


theater, they found the boulevards specially illum- 
inated and they were enthusiastically cheered as 
they passed through the crowded streets on their 
way to the palace where several ambassadors and 
senators awaited them, another evidence of the great 
esteem in which the Emperor was held by high and 
low alike. They often recalled that evening, and 
while they remembered specially the victims who, 
in the fulfillment of their duty, or in search of pleas- 
ure, had fallen by the bombs of Orsini and his ac- 
complices, what made the most lasting impression 
on their minds, was the remarkable popular demon- 
stration in favor of the regime which the Emperor 
was endeavoring to place on solid ground. 

At a much later period, the Emperor said one 
day: “Orsini did more to consolidate the Second 
Empire, than a half dozen Bonapartist speeches in 
the Legislative Body or as many more of my ad- 
dresses from the throne — ^which I put last you see,” 
he said smiling. 

The following day, all Paris learnt that the con- 
spirators had been arrested, that Orsini was the 
chief, while Gomez and Eudio were his accomplices, 
and that Pieri had been arrested the day of the 
explosion, for the police were aware of the plot and 
steps had already been taken to prevent its execu- 
tion. Who can say whether the bomb which Pieri 
was to have thrown would not have been fatal to 
the Emperor? This question was asked on every 
hand. Though he had escaped, Napoleon and Eu- 
genie were far from rejoicing, for there were many 
other victims, as has just been said, and they felt 
deep sorrow as they thought of these lives cut short 
or in the greatest danger by the bombs which had 

421 



MEMOIBS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

been intended for them. The Emperor and the Em- 
press drove out together the next day, January 15th, 
in an open carriage, passing through the boulevards 
without escort, and visited at the hospitals of the 
Gros Caillou and the Val de Grace the wounded men 
who had formed part of the escort on the pre'^ious 
evening. 

On J anuary 16th an official reception was held at 
the Tuileries for the members of the Diplomatic 
Corps, the Senate, the Legislative Corps, the Coun- 
cil of State, and the Municipal Council of Paris. On 
this occasion speeches were made by the presidents 
of the Senate and the Legislative corps, M. Trop- 
long and M. de Morny, which were filled with loyal 
sentiment. The papers published, the same day, the 
names of the one hundred and eighteen persons who 
had been wounded or killed, and described in detail 
the admirable bravery of the lancers of the suite, 
the presence of mind of Quartermaster Cuisin and of 
Corporal Prudhomme. On the 17th there was a 
reception for the generals, admirals and all the other 
officers then present in Paris, while the Cardinal 
Archbishop of Paris presided at a Te Deum which 
was sung at Notre Dame. Congratulations on their 
fortxmate escape now began to pour in upon the Em- 
peror and the Empress from all parts of Europe, 
couched in the wannest terms. The Prince of Den- 
mark, and Princes Charles, Adalbert and Albert of 
Prussia came in person a little later to bring their 
felicitations. The Imperial speech delivered at the 
opening of the legislative session on the 18th was 
most enthusiastically greeted, and while they con- 
tinued to visit the wounded men in the hospitals, 
military crosses and medals were distributed by the 

422 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEHOE’S LIFE 


Emperor among the police, lancers, and Paris 
Guards who had risked their lives on that tragic 
evening. 

These details are given to bring out the fact that 
the sovereigns, the high officials, the journals and 
the people all united as one on this occasion, a fine 
pro3f of the popularity and stability of the throne 
at this moment. 

Meanwhile the news from abroad was far from 
quieting the public mind at home. From Italy and 
England came information concerning a vast plot 
which had been prepared and which showed that 
the Emperor’s hfe was in constant and growing 
danger. Nothing else was talked of at the ball given 
by the English ambassador on January 25th, the 
day on which was celebrated in London the mar- 
riage of Princess Victoria with Prince Frederick of 
Prussia, the future Frederick III. It was only nat- 
ural, therefore, that the Emperor should feel some 
concern over this state of things. Not only was his 
life in danger, but the peace of the country was 
threatened. He was still further alarmed on reading 
the reports sent to Count Walewski, the natural son 
of Napoleon I, Foreign Minister at this moment, by 
the Prince de la Tour d ’Auvergne, then French min- 
ister at Turin. This all caused Napoleon to t.bi-nk of 
the future, to consider what would be the situation 
of Prance in the event of his being murdered. He 
often examined at this time the eventuality of a 
Eegent and a chM-Emperor. He took necessary 
military measures and divided the troops in the in- 
terior of the Empire into five large military com- 
mands which he entrusted to the marshals of 
France. Letters patent dated February 1, 1858, con- 

423 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

ferred on tlie Empress the title of Regent, to be 
valid from the day of the mounting to the throne 
of the Prince Imperial. A decree of the same date 
instituted a privy council composed of such pillars 
of the Second Empire as Cardinal Morlot, the 
Marshal Duo de Malakoff, M. Achille Fould, Minis- 
ter, M. Troplong, President of the Senate, Comte de 
Momy, M. Baroche, Minister, and Comte de Per- 
signy. Finally, while the trial of Orsini and his 
accomplices was under way, General Espinasse was 
called to the Ministry of the Interior with the 
title of Adjutant-Minister of Public Safety. This 
nomination, made in terms which indicated future 
repressive measures, caused some surprise. It was 
in fact, done in an answer to an address from the 
colonels of the army, who denounced England, as 
“a murderer’s refuge, a shelter for assassins,” who 
had, for the most part, really come from Italy, de- 
termined to kill the Emperor. Public sentiment even 
demanded that severe measures be taken against 
former deported and suspected French subjects, and 
some four hundred persons of this category were 
arrested and three hundred were sent to Algeria. 
This somewhat draconian measure produced a good 
effect and the Law of Public Safety remained like a 
sword of Damocles ever threatening, but rarely 
striking, turbulent spirits bent on violent acts 
against the head of the state. Thus the senseless act 
of Orsird drove Napoleon III, in spite of himself, to 
take stem steps to protect himself, the throne, and 
the tranquillity of the French nation. He always re- 
gretted having been forced to do so, and the Em- 
press wholly shared his feelings on this point. 

Very serious difficulties had arisen between Eng- 

424 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROE’S LIFE 


land and Prance on account of the violent denuncia- 
tions made by the colonels just referred to. It was 
well known that the Orsini plot had been hatched on 
the other side of the Channel and much indignation 
was felt regarding the liberty which was enjoyed 
there by the discontented subjects of all nations. 
The '•English ministry considered it necessary to 
introduce a “Conspiracy to Murder” hill which was, 
however, rejected at the last moment. Thereupon, 
Lord Palmerston feU and finally the new Derby- 
Disraeli cabinet, in which Lord Malmesbury re- 
placed Lord Clarendon in the Foreign Office, made 
amicable overtures to France. Marshal Pelissier 
was sent to replace Comte de Persigny in London as 
French Ambassador, and to further prove that 
friendly relations subsisted between the allies of the 
Crimean war, the Queen and Emperor agreed to 
meet at Cherbourg on the occasion of the opening 
of the new docks.^ 

In the meantime, on March 13th, Orsini and Fieri 
were executed. Eudio’s sentence was commuted to 
hard labor for life, while Gomez shared a similar 
fate. The Emperor would have liked to grant a 
reprieve to the two first named, in which act of 
clemency the Empress supported him. But the min- 
isters begged him not to do so as this criminal out- 
rage had caused so many deaths. The trial of the 
conspirators gave rise to meetings full of interest in 
which many persons desired to broach political mat- 
ters both in a manner favorable and unfavorable 
to the regime. It was said even that the Emperor 
had gone to see Orsini in prison, and that, “speak- 
ing as a former Carbonaro,” he had promised the 

* An acoount of this meeting is given in Chapter VI in this volume, 

425 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Italian conspirators that he would labor in the 
future for the liberation of Italy. This absurd fact 
is mentioned to show what wild rumors were in the 
air at this moment. Of course, there was much fable 
and little truth in all these tales. It is certain that 
the Emperor saw in these desperate acts, threats 
which were more important from the fact thatTthey 
came from all the different corners of Italy. He un- 
questionably read in them a call back to the dreams 
and ideals of former days, to the vague promises of 
Ms youth. He henceforth viewed as a possible 
eventuality what till then had been only a dream and 
a fancy. From now on a close alliance with Italy 
became more desirable in view of a probable war 
with Austria for the liberation of Italy. 

Well might we entertain a feeling of sadness dur- 
ing that spring tide of 1858. The dark political 
clouds at home, the horizon heavy with warlike prob- 
abilities, a sudden check to the prosperity which had 
marked the two preceding years, a lack of confi- 
dence shown by government and nation, general 
anxiety regarding not only the future, but even re- 
garding the very life of the head of the state; all 
these somber circumstances were of a nature to 
render us more thoughtful and uneasy than ever 
before. And it was this dreadful act of Felix Orsini, 
a man of undoubted talent and energy, a fanatic in 
the cause of Italian independence, wMch had sud- 
denly plunged France, and Europe in general, into 
this state of dark uncertainty. So depressing was 
the effect of all tMs on the mind of both the Em- 
peror and the Empress, that they always avoided, in 
their retrospective moments, any thought of tMs 
unhappy year of 1858. 


426 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROR’S LIFE 


After Orsini’s bold and -well-organized effort, all 
the other plots -which followed were rather insignifi- 
cant. On July 3, 1864, four common-place assassins 
— Greco, Trahuco, Scaglioni, and Imperatori — ^made 
an attempt on the life of the sovereign, but without 
any result. They were all Italians, paid by Mazzini, 
and Sheltered in London. Many Bonapartists again 
felt that England was much to blame in permitting 
Mazzini and his fellow-conspirators to work thus 
freely against the peace of a friendly neighboring 
state and against the life of an allied and cherished 
sovereign. But the Emperor understood perfectly 
well the peculiar character of the British constitu- 
tion and never entertained any hard feeling against 
England, the royal family or the nation. The Em- 
peror said one evening, not long after the fear- 
ful Orsini outrage, when, as we have just seen, pub- 
lic opinion in France was very much excited against 
England: “Emile Ollivier is perfectly justified in 
protesting against the new Public Safety Bill, and I 
am not over-pleased -mth it myself. I believe the 
Interior should always have a civil head. Nor do I 
approve of the intemperate speeches which it is now 
the habit of pronouncing against England. In the 
first place, violent pohtical acts, like these attempts 
at assassination, never aid their promoters in the 
long run. They cause to rally around us all the 
friends of order of all parties. Then again, I cannot 
be harsh with England, for I can never forget how 
hospitably I was treated there in the dark days, in 
both official and private circles. To me, London is 
always a second Paris, notwithstanding her fogs and 
rain and chilliness. ” - 

The ministry formed on January 2, 1870, by Fimile 

427 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

Ollivier, with the purpose of evolving the much- 
talked of “Liberal Empire,” was bom in the midst 
of conspiracies, which this time were of purely 
French character. The Paris republicans were pre- 
paring a revolution which was to burst forth on the 
first good opportunity. It was no longer the Em- 
peror’s life which was in danger, but the very &ist- 
ence of the regime itself; or perhaps it would be 
more correct to say, that both the Emperor and the 
Empire were threatened. The Empress felt it and 
saw it from the first. The Emperor was of her mind 
after the Victor Noir tragedy. It will be remem- 
bered that this turbulent Paris journalist was shot 
by Prince Pierre Bonaparte in a quarrel in which 
both held that they were right. The Emperor was 
displeased with this rather ungovernable son of 
Prince Lucien Bonaparte, who married against his 
wishes and had caused the government much 
trouble. The Emperor would have preferred to get 
the Prince out of the country and prevent all the 
scandal which followed. But this was impossible 
now that the control of state affairs was in the hands 
of a liberal ministry. So the trial, replete with 
scandals of various kinds, and the subsequent public 
funeral of Victor Noir, lent themselves to the pur- 
poses of the enemies of the regime, who were not 
slow to make use of these esceUent arms. Arrests, 
riots, bloodshed were the natural results of this un- 
fortunate state of effervescence, which lasted 
several days. The Empress fuUy realized the dan- 
gers of such unrest. Her mind was continually re- 
curring to the memory of similar events in French 
history. One evening when the Tuileries and the 
neighborhood were more carefully guarded mili- 

428 



EPISODES IN THE EMPEROR’S LIFE 

tarily than usual, the Emperor said to her: “Let us 
go and see the soldiers”; and they visited those 
parts of the palace where they were put in easy com- 
munication with the troops. But suddenly the Em- 
press recalled the fatal feast of October 3, 1789, and 
she exclaimed earnestly to the Emperor: “No, no! 
No bodyguard banquet. Let us return to the inside 
of the palace immediately,” which they did. 



THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON III 


He was naturally wrapped up in his only son and 
this boy’s good conduct was balm to (his ailing 
father. 

But there was still another element that tended to 
undermine the health of the Emperor. I refer to the 
climate of England. No climate could have been 
worse for an ailing patient in his state. His tem- 
perament could not fight against it, but his will was 
so strong that he almost succeeded in hiding the 
fact from those about h i m . But he could not hide it 
from the Empress. She saw the real situation but 
could do nothing to alleviate it. She simply suf- 
fered at his suffering. 

Camden Place House was a general meeting place 
for ah. the exiled courtiers, and though these old 
faces did much to keep up the general cheerfulness, 
their presence was a continual strain on Napoleon. 
Former aides-de-camp and ladies in waiting were 
always in attendance, and the little group was often 
reenforced by friends or faithful visitors of the old 
Tuileries group. All these when they left Chisle- 
hurst went away delighted with the Emperor’s wel- 
come and in high spirits over the ' ‘ excellent health 
of his Majesty.” When, on their return to France, 
they were questioned concerning his physical condi- 
tion, which they felt was the pivot on which turned 
the whole political situation, they would say, very 
honestly, as they thought: “Why, he is perfectly 
well and strong!” Others would add: “We never 
saw him so courageous and cheerful ; he really seems 
to have grown younger.” 

This special interest in the state of the Emperor 
was largely due to the fact that at this moment an 
Imperial restoration was much thought of and a 

431 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


whole plan had been formed, with the support of 
several corps commanders, to put the Emperor on 
the throne again. There is no hesitation on my part 
to state this fact at this late day, for the reasons, 
in the first place, that the republicans of that mo- 
ment made this public, and, in the second place, 
because the Empress was privately opposed to the 
plan. She felt that the Emperor was too feeble to 
stand this new strain and the Prince Imperial too 
young to take the lead in the proposed restoration. 
Nor was she convinced from what she heard from 
Prance that there was wisdom in the proposal, and I 
think the events that happened in the immediately 
following years showed that her view, which was 
shared by not a few friends of the regime, was the 
right one. Purthermore, the Emperor himself, who 
had had wide experience in political matters, was 
not so enthusiastic about the “plot,” as the repub- 
licans called it, as were the young Bonapartists who 
had planned the affair. 

At the end of November, 1872, the deadly form 
of the Emperor’s disease became more evident to 
the Empress. At first, he was obliged to give up 
driving and then even walking. A decision had to 
be arrived at. The medical men. Dr. Corvisart and 
Dr. Conneau, both advised an operation, which they 
considered absolutely necessary. But other phy- 
sicians held that it was not yet obligatory. The Em- 
press was appealed to, but hesitated giving an opin- 
ion as she perceived the danger of both proposals. 
When Prince Napoleon visited the Emperor at the 
beginning of December, he urged him to yield to 
the advice of the first set of doctors. In order to 
get him to consent, he said to him one day; “It is 

432 



THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON III 


only in this way that you will obtain complete com- 
mand of yourself.” The Emperor answered, in his 
characteristic way: “Oh, my health will never 
stand in the way of my accomplishing all my politi- 
cal duties. It was so in 1870, and it will he so again, 
if circumstances make such a sacrifice necessary.” 
Thif was brave and just like him. But he decided 
to make an experiment himself. So he gave orders 
for a drive, and the following day, about two o’clock, 
a footman announced that the Emperor’s carriage 
was at the door. The announcement caused great 
surprise and every one but the Empress thought 
there must be some mistake. It was a long time 
since he had taken a drive, and for several days he 
had not left the house. “I am going over to Wool- 
wich to see the Prince,” he said quietly as he went 
down stairs to get into the carriage. Eugenie was 
very anxious and the intimate circle all naturally 
shared her anxiety. We all felt how dangerous that 
drive might be. 

The Emperor was accompanied by Prince Napo- 
leon. They reached Woolwich safely, saw the 
Prince Imperial for a short time, walked with him, 
and then drove back to Chislehurst. On his return, 
the doctors questioned Prince Napoleon very close- 
ly. He told them that the Emperor had not com- 
plained during the drive and that if his suffering 
had been increased, his face had given no signs of 
it. As soon as the Empress was alone with him, 
she asked anxiously how he had really borne the 
trial. In his habitually courageous manner, he an- 
swered simply: “I suffered a little.” But, two 
days afterwards, a violent fever set in, which de- 
cided the doctors to make an examination. Dr. Gull 

433 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


suggested that this he done by the eminent surgeon, 
Sir Henry Thompson, who came to Camden Place 
and examined the Emperor. The result of his visit 
was to confirm the diagnosis of Drs. See, Conneau 
and Corvisart. There could no longer be a doubt 
that the Emperor was suffering from stone. I^was 
then decided that he should be operated upon at 
the beginning of January. We were all anxious but 
optimistic, for Dr. Thompson was known for the 
successful way in which he performed this delicate 
and dangerous operation. The Prince Imperial 
shared this confidence, and when he wrote to the 
Pope, his godfather, and sent the customary New 
Year’s greeting, he confided to the Holy Father his 
optimism, and asked for a blessing for the patient. 
The letter was delayed in some way and reached 
Rome on the very day when the telegram arrived 
informing the Holy Father of the Emperor’s death. 

On January 2nd, Sir Henry installed himself, with 
his aids, Messrs. Forster and Glover, one of whom 
was to administer the chloroform, at Camden Place. 
Drs. Gull, Corvisart and Conneau, were of course 
present at this the first operation, which was fairly 
successful. The Emperor’s suffering was much 
diminished ; but the result was very slight, for the 
stone was hardly touched. On Monday, the 6th, a 
second operation was performed. It was more pain- 
ful than the first one, and the Emperor felt the pain 
afterwards very violently. Local troubles set in 
which caused much anxiety. After consultation, it 
was decided that if the third lithotriptic operation 
was not successful, they would have to resort to 
heroic remedies. The poor patient said nothing. 
After this second operation, the changed state of 

434 



THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON in 


Ms body and mind -was revealed only by Ms pnlse, 
Ms temperature and the expression of Ms face. He 
hardly came out of the heavy sleep mixed with de- 
lirium into which he was plunged by his disease, and 
probably by the chloroform. On Tuesday, when the 
Empress was near his bed^ he murmured: “Where 
is Couis?” She answered: “He has gone back to 
Woolwich ; do you want him ? ” “ No, no, he is work- 
ing and I do not want him disturbed.” The follow- 
ing day. Dr. Conneau, who had just returned from 
London where he had been to see his daughter, who 
was ill, entered the room. The Emperor said to 
him: “Ah, is that you, Conneau? You were at 
Sedan, were you not?” Thinking that His Majesty 
had made a mistake, he answered: “Yes, Sire, I 
have been to London.” “I did not ask whether you 
were in London. I asked if you were at Sedan.” 
“Yes, Sire, I was there.” “Ah!” and he closed 
his eyes. 

“Louis! Sedan!” those were the last intelligible 
words pronounced by Napoleon. The first was a 
farewell to the beloved son whose presence always 
brought a smile to Ms lips even in the midst of the 
most cruel suffering of these final days of life. The 
second word was a reminder of the moral and physi- 
cal calvary which had tortured him during those 
dreadful days of the summer of 1870 wMch had con- 
tinued to torture him each day and even every min- 
ute since. This was the disease which sapped his 
forces slowly but surely while the doctors were seek- 
ing for physical causes. These were really his last 
words, though he did open his mouth several times 
thereafter, but only to respond in monosyllables 
to the questions put by the doctors or by the Em- 

435 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


press. He gave the latter feehle smiles, having no 
strength left with which to speak. 

On the evening of the 8th, his condition seemed 
to have improved. The night was calm and his suf- 
fering had greatly decreased. The 9th was com- 
mencing and appeared promising. Sir Henry was 
encouraged and informed Comte Clary that the third 
operation would now take place, and that it would 
be necessary to use the knife. Everybody hoped 
for the best. The Prince Imperial had asked to be 
allowed to come. But it was thought best for him to 
wait till after the operation. Comte Clary was pre- 
paring to start for Woolwich in order to carry him 
the more favorable news and to inform him of the 
comforting words he had heard from the doctors. 
At about ten o’clock he came to see if the Empress 
had any message to send, and she asked him to 
wait while she got ready to go, too. As the 
Emperor appeared to be better and she had not been 
out for a month, the Empress concluded to take a 
little airing and see her son. On the way to take 
the carriage, she met Dr. Corvisart, who said to her 
quietly; “Your Majesty had better not go out.” 
“But what has happened?” “A new attack has 
come, and it would be better that Your Majesty re- 
main at the house.” Then, turning to Comte Clary, 
he said quickly: “Hasten and bring the Prince”; 
and to Mme. Lebreton: “Call Father Goddard.” 
This was the Chislehurst priest who often came to 
Camden Place and with whom the Emperor liked to 
chat, and to whom he had said shortly before, as 
they were walking in the cemetery: “I’m looking 
for the spot where you can put me.” 

Thereupon the Empress entered the room. The 

436 



THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON III 

doctors stood round the bed observing the altered 
features, the -whitening lips and marking the slack- 
ening pulse. “Sire,” said one of them, “the Em- 
press has come to see ho-w Tour Majesty is.” At 
this, the Emperor turned and sought her out -with 
his eyes. She dre-w near and kissed his forehead. 
He ‘turned his head a little and put out his lips to 
kiss her, hut had hardly the strength to do so. Dr. 
Thompson gave him a fe-w drops of cordial, but Eu- 
genie’s remark that “Louis is coming, dear” had a 
greater reviving effect than the cordial. Everybody 
noticed ho-w that name moved him. A slight smile 
and an expression of joy immediately spread over 
his -white face. At this moment. Father Goddard 
entered the room, and administered extreme unc- 
tion. The Empress noticed the hard breathing, but 
did not imagine that the end was so near. Father 
Goddard gently drew her away. She thought that 
he wished to remain alone with the Emperor. The 
doctors evidently perceived that the Empress did 
not realize the real situation, so they told her that 
the Emperor was dying. She then returned to the 
bed, everybody fell on their knees, and the Emperor 
Napoleon passed quietly away. 

In the meanwhile, Comte Clary had reached Wool- 
wich, where he found the Prince, gun on shoulder, 
starting for his military exercise. They hastened 
back, and got to Camden Place a little after midday. 
As they entered the house, Comte Da-villier said to 
the Prince: “Be brave, Prince; the Emperor is 
very ill.” The Prince saw Father Goddard coming 
towards him weeping, and then understood what had 
happened. He hurried up the stairs and met the 
Empress just coming from the death chamber. She 

437 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


embraced ber poor boy, and be then passed on into 
tbe room. He bad hoped up to tbe very last mo- 
ment to find his father alive. But he now found 
himself confronted with a corpse. The Emperor 
seemed to be sleeping, and his face wore a most 
calm appearance. The Prince fell on his knees and 
prayed. Then he rose, seized the Emperor’s head 
in his two hands and Idssed him tenderly. The Em- 
press again drew him to her, and others tried to 
have the Prince leave the room. But he refused for 
a long time. He seemed stupefied and unable to give 
way to the emotions which were swelling up in his 
bosom. He finally retired, asked quietly how the 
last moments were passed, and at length, giving 
way to his deep sorrow, wept bitterly and freely. 

The news of the Emperor’s death caused much 
sorrow in England and in Prance. Several of the 
London papers appeared in black. The Emperor 
was popular in England, and, though in exile, it was 
felt that he exei'cised much influence on public af- 
fairs. Many statesmen at that time considered that 
he or his son was destined to play an important 
part in the world’s politics. The Queen was kind 
enough to send her chamberlain. Lord Sydney, and 
the Duke of Cambridge arrived shortly afterwards. 
The good Queen who, up to the day of her death, 
always treated Eugenie with the greatest kindness 
also sent to her and to the Prince Imperial tender 
letters and telegrams. Telegrams reached them in 
great numbers from other crowned heads, public 
men in all countries and from our old and dear 
friends in France. I was told a few days later that 
more than two score newspapers of Paris and the 
departments came out in mourning. The warmth 

438 



THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON III 

of feeling expressed by all classes at CMsleburst 
touched the Empress deeply. The Prince Imperial 
•was so overcome by tbo blow that she induced him 
to withdraw from the big house, where there was 
such a come and go, to a smaller one occupied by 
Comte Clary in a corner of the park. The next day, 
the*then Prince of Wales came. He would not in- 
trude upon Eugenie’s grief, but he was received 
by the Prince Imperial, to whom he said with much 
feeling and gentleness as he kissed him: “I pity 
you, for I know by experience what you must suf- 
fer.” 

The Prince Imperial was so tender throughout 
this sad experience. I recall some one of the house- 
hold coming to ask the Empress about some of the 
details of the funci'al. Turning to her son who was 
with her at the moment, she said to him : ‘ ‘ Speak, 
Louis; you are the one to decide things now.” His 
only reply was kneeling down, kissing her hands, 
which were bathed with his tears. There wore many 
other touching acts and scenes during these painful 
hours. Among the Frenchmen who arrived direct 
from France was Eugene Delessert, who brought 
with him a case full of earth taken from the private 
garden of the Tuileries on which was laid the coffin. 
The Emperor was placed in his coffin wearing his 
wedding ring and the ring which was on the finger 
of Napoleon I, when he died at Saint Helena. It 
was proposed to take off and hand to the Prince Im- 
perial this family relic. But he refused to pennit 
this. 

The body was exposed on January 14th, in the 
large hall of the house. When Marshal Leboeuf ar- 
rived before it, he fell on his knees before the bier, 

439 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


exclaiming: “My poor Emperor! My poor Em- 
peror!” Then he slowly walked around the room 
and t^^dce kissed the hands he had not shaken since 
Metz. Those who witnessed this scene told me that 
it was most heart-rending. All understood the an- 
guish and pain of that unfortunate man and true 
soldier, who seemed to ask forgiveness for his short- 
comings, and who was finally led away by a friend. 

The night preceding the funeral the Empress 
spent in prayer at the coffin side. A ray of sun 
burst through the heavy clouds at the very moment 
when the funeral left the house. Later, M. Frances- 
chini Pietri informed her that in the procession were 
two marshals, an admiral, fifteen generals, six vice- 
admirals and rear-admirals, fourteen deputies, 
twenty-seven former ministers, twenty-five former 
prefects. On Sunday, the 19th, Father Goddard 
preached an excellent sermon on the dead Emperor. 
I have read and re-read it many times since. He 
dwelt on the religious feelings of the Emperor, 
which were indeed very deep. Speaking of the Em- 
peror’s kindliness to the poor, he told this anecdote 
which I have myself heard from the Emperor’s own 
lips. A child, he returned home one day without his 
shoes, and when Queen Hortense asked him what 
he had done with them, he answered: “Mother, I 
met a poor boy who had no shoes, so I gave him 
mine.” The child in this case was indeed father 
to the man, for no soul was ever more noble and 
more generous than that of the Emperor. There 
was in him a generosity, a greatness of heart, a 
touching kindliness which was felt by everybody 
who came into his presence. I have heard this said 
over and over again by friend and stranger. His 

440 



THE DEATH OF NAPOLEON III 

attaolimeiit to his friends, his gratitude for the 
slightest attention — ^noble and rare virtues — ^would 
suffice alone to single hina out as a king among men. 
But there was another trait in his character which 
was still greater. He was capable of the most mag- 
nanimous forgiveness for offenses. Those who lived 
out^de of his immediate circle have no idea how 
highly developed this grand quality was in him. 
Often he had an opportunity of taking revenge, but 
he never once took advantage of it, even when it 
would have advanced his political views and inter- 
ests. 

Father Ooddard told me a few days later that 
after the burial service, a marshal who had fought 
and commanded at Sebastopol came to him in the 
sacristy and said with tears in his eyes: “I thank 
you for having come to join your grief and respect 
to ours in the presence of this tomb. He whom we 
are mourning deserved this homage, for he had a 
noble heart. ” Since then, I have heard similar testi- 
mony from many other men of mark, and I perceive 
that I am not alone in saying that the Emperor Na- 
poleon III had one of the sweetest characters I have 
ever known. 



CHAPTER XVII 


BBCOJXECTIOlSr AND EBTEOSPECTION 

Dueing the Empire the Empress acted as regent 
on several occasions. What she did at these times 
has, in some instances, been criticized severely in 
certain quarters. Even what she thought or was 
supposed to think has not always escaped censure. 
But neither at the time nor since did Eugenie pay 
much attention to these carpings, which were gen- 
erally based on no very solid facts. Nor did she 
accept willingly the praises which were not infre- 
quently bestowed upon her for her acts during these 
same regencies. She was always ready to wait pa- 
tiently till the future historian, with all the docu- 
ments in hand, shall pass final judgment on the pub- 
lic characters of the Second Empire. 

But, concerning many things that the Empress 
did during these regencies, even the most malevolent 
detractors of the reign were forced to hold their 
peace. A good example of this was afforded during 
the regency of the year 1865 when Napoleon HI 
undertook a journey to Algeria during which she 
occupied the position of ruler. 

The treatment of youthful prisoners was a subject 
which has always greatly interested the Empress 
and she studied it attentively during this regency. 
All who have any knowledge of administrative red- 
tapism and routine, especially in France, can realize 
. 442 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 

what she had to fight against in order to introduce 
alterations or improvements of any kind in the 
prison system. Eugenie fully realized the difficulty 
of the task, and as the best means of gaining accu- 
rate and precise knowledge of the existing state of 
affairs, she determined to conduct all the investiga- 
tions^n person, and carefully visit all the establish- 
ments where ameliorations were needed. 

At that time, youthful delinquents were usually 
shut up in La Petite Eoquette, and this prison was 
the first which the Empress visited on her “errand 
of mercy, ’ ’ as the Emperor termed it, writing from 
Algiers. After a preliminary hasty examination, 
she was pained to find that the condition of things 
there was worse even than she had imagined it to 
be. The children, many of whom, though no doubt 
guilty and even vicious, were mostly victims of neg- 
lect and ill-treatment, and were yet subjected to 
moral torture of a kind which had long been abol- 
ished in all the prisons where adults were shut up. 
The natural result was that these young persons 
became hardened and perverse in many cases where 
gentle treatment and kind care would have worked 
wonders. 

The Empress found that the children were con- 
demned to a life of complete isolation. For these 
young beings, full of life and spirits, the days were 
terribly long and each was a perfect replica of the 
day which had preceded it, a perfect foreshadowing 
of the day which would follow it. Their time was 
spent in a lonely cell, bending over an unchanging 
task, in absolute and unbroken silence. No relief 
came when the poor soul was turned into the prison- 
yard for a short walk. Perhaps on the first occa- 

443 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

sion, Ms heart beat eagerly as be passed through 
the grated door, thinking no doubt that he "would 
find some comrades outside, and that even if speak- 
ing were prohibited, there would be something dif- 
ferent to look at. But, alas! the poor child’s walk 
was taken in a passage-way twenty-five yards long 
surrounded by high blank walls, and the daily so- 
called recreation became a sort of torture against 
which his young soul revolted. The very chapel 
had been turned into a place of punishment; for 
one above the other, rose tiers of little boxes from 
wMch the occupants could see the altar, but where 
they were unable even to catch sight of any of their 
companions in misery. 

The Empress had brought before her some of 
these wretched young beings. She questioned them 
one by one, inquired into their former life, the cause 
of their imprisonment, and asked especially about 
their present condition. For some, she was soon 
convinced there was no remedy. Soiled imagina- 
tions, perverted minds, such appeared ready for 
any crime. When catechized, these immediately 
launched iuto long explanations of their deeds and 
actions, inventing with marvelous facility tales by 
which they hoped to deceive their listeners and win 
compassion. The Empress was led to the reluctant 
conclusion that such children were beyond help; 
they were sunk too deep in the mire. She found 
that there were others, however, who had never 
known a kind word or loving caress. They slept 
under the bridges of the Seine because they had been 
abandoned. They had no other home, and sought 
the only shelter they knew of. Some night, the 
police would find them out, and, being homeless, they 

444 



EECOLLECTION AND EETROSPECTION 


would be brought to La Petite Eoquette. Was it 
right, Eugenie asked herself, that such victims of 
fate deliberately should be turned into culprits ’ cells 
to become by confinement and harsh treatment hard- 
ened and desperate criminals? She answered the 
self-imposed question by a vigorous “No.” 

Eugenie discovered that other children had been 
imprisoned at their own parents’ request, by par- 
ents who beat them and goaded them till they be- 
came little better than savages. One case particu- 
larly interested her — that of a young boy who had 
one day stolen some trivial object as he passed 
through a street. He was a policeman’s son, and 
the father, ashamed of the boy’s evil deed, insisted 
on his being rigorously punished and had requested 
that he be imprisoned for a year. The lad had been 
hardened by the treatment and swore that as soon 
as he was free he would kill his father. Every effort 
had been made to shake his determination, but he 
remained obdurate. “I will kill my father when I 
leave here,” he repeated over and over again. 

The Empress inquired into this boy’s past. In 
very simple language, he told the whole story and 
bursting into tears exclaimed: “My father had no 
right to punish me so severely for such a little thing. 
It is unjust and I will kill him for it. ’ ’ Eugenie drew 
the young prisoner nearer to her and spoke gently 
to him. In kindly tones she dwelt on the "duty 
of parents, and how such duties become sterner and 
more imperative according to the position held by 
the parent. “Your father was a policeman,” she 
said to the trembling lad, “whose duty it was to 
repress evil in others, and he had consequently felt 
it more incumbent on him to punish his son’s mis- 

445 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

deeds very severely, though no doubt it caused him 
much pain to do so. ’ ’ The child listened, and as her 
words fell on his ears, his hard little heart grew 
softer and softer till at length he gave way and 
sobbing, fell at her feet and promised to abandon 
his terrible determination. Eugenie then promised 
to send some one to intercede with his father sotthat 
the term of imprisonment might be shortened. She 
did so, and shortly afterwards the child was re- 
leased. She saw that he was apprenticed and care- 
fully watched during several years. In the end, the 
lad gave entire satisfaction to his employers, thus 
justifying the interest which she had inspired. 

After this visit to La Petite Roquette, the Em- 
press appointed a committee to inquire into the pos- 
sibility of converting the iniquitous cellular system 
of imprisonment into that known in France as “agri- 
cultural penitentiaries.” The meetings of this com- 
mittee were held at the Tuileries and among its more 
prominent members was M. Emile OUivier, who had 
but lately come over to the Empire and who was a 
staunch partisan of this new system by which work 
in the open fields supplanted the drudgery in pent- 
up prison work-shops. 

As was to be expected, there was a considerable 
amount of opposition in the committee to this re- 
form. One of the members tried hard to persuade 
the Empress of the danger of allowing sentiment 
to play a part in such matters. He pointed out with 
much earnestness that innumerable obstacles would 
be raised to the new proposal and that the whole 
administrative economy would be upset by such a 
reform. Eug4nie did not deny these facts, but hav- 
ing exposed her ideas on the subject, she warmly 

446 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 


maintained that humanity, and not mere sentiment, 
demanded that such steps as she suggested be taken. 
The Empress gave examples of what she had seen, 
and pleaded so earnestly on behalf of the young 
prisoners that it was finally decided by the commit- 
tee io draft the children gradually into the various 
agricultural penitentiaries then existing. 

It cannot be denied that the obstacles which had 
been foreseen did arise. None were more opposed 
to the proposal than the managers of the agricul- 
tural colonies or penitentiaries, who feared the evil 
effects which might accrue from the introduction of 
undisciplined, and in many cases vicious, children, 
among those who had already been disciplined and 
improved by regular and healthy work. But these 
objections were over-ridden, and the change of treat- 
ment brought about more rapid and better results 
than had been expected. In the fresh country air, 
under the healthy influence of congenial work and 
contact with fairly disciplined children, some mar- 
velous changes took place. 

Whenever I speak of this campaign for the 
amelioration of the lot of imprisoned youth, I al- 
ways enjoy relating the following example of the 
success of Eugenie’s plan. It was that of a boy of 
sixteen who, with a party of fifty others, was trans- 
ferred to Citeaux, the famous abbey near Nuits, 
turned into an industrial and agricultural peniten- 
tiary for juvenile offenders. He had been specially 
noted for his coarse and defiant nature. He prided 
himself on being a “prison bird” and declared his 
intention of remaining one. He would listen to no 
counsel and spurned the efforts of all who tried to 
take an interest in him. But this agricultural sys- 

447 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


tem worked a miracle on kim. Barely a year had 
elapsed before he was allowed to leave, although 
his term of imprisonment had not yet expired. The 
manager of the establishment recommended him as 
a farm laborer, and the boy kept his situation, giv- 
ing great satisfaction and becoming in the end an 
excellent member of society. 

The Empress next turned her attention to the 
terrible women’s prison of Saint Lazare, where vice, 
misery and crime were thrown together indiscrimi- 
nately, thus forming a vast and festering social 
wound. 

During one of her visits to this lamentable estab- 
lishment her attention was attracted to a woman 
who was lying on her deathbed. She had led a 
wretched and shameful life, and was now loudly re- 
fusing the comfort of religion, while she indulged in 
the most horrible curses and blasphemy. The Em- 
press approached her bed, spoke gently and sooth- 
ingly to her, and seemed to find words which went 
straight to her heart. Suddenly she raised her eyes 
wonderingly and remarked: 

“You, an Empress, can speak so kindly to me! 
You can feel for my sufferings ! Then, truly there 
must be a God, if you have such a kind heart.” 

Few things that happened to Eugenie during this 
regency gave her more real joy than these words 
coming from the heart of a fallen woman. Soothed 
and softened, the poor woman asked forgiveness of 
the sisters and nurses towards whom she had been 
so rebellious, and, assisted by the Empress, she 
passed the rosary they handed her round her neck, 
asked for the chaplain and even wished to be con- 

448 



EECOLLECTION AND KETROSPECTION 


fessed aloud. She then died quietly with words of 
prayer on her lips. 

That day spent by the Empress at Saint Lazare 
was not soon forgotten, and the touching and pa- 
thetic remarks of gratitude which she received both 
in tl^e prison and outside its walls, have always re- 
mained graven in my memory. I believe that this 
work of Eugenie’s in this prison for the fallen 
women of Paris was the starting point for the for- 
mation of a philanthropic society especially devoted 
to their interests, a society which has become very 
widely known during the Third Republic. 

The news of her presence in the building during 
the visit just described spread throughout the neigh- 
borhood and a large crowd gathered about the gate- 
way, anxious to catch sight of the Empress and to 
praise a humane but very natural action. So when 
she appeared at the door, she found groups of kneel- 
ing women who strove to touch her hands and gar- 
ments and present their children to the Empress. 
She was naturally much moved and was obliged lit- 
erally to force her way to the carriage through a 
mass of affectionate people. The Empress returned 
to the Tuileries with a heart which, though heavy, 
was at the same time happy at a duty cheerfully per- 
formed. Nothing during the regency was so worthy 
of the Emperor’s praise ; and he did praise the Em- 
press warmly, on his return from Algeria, in the 
midst of her philanthropic work. 

Ten years later, the Empress had another oppor- 
tunity of coming to the aid of the poor and unfor- 
tunate under most trying circumstances. At the 
end of September, 1865, while the court was staying 
at Biarritz, it was announced that cholera had 

449 



MEMOIRS OP THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


broken out in Paris. The Emperor and the Empress 
immediately resolved to return to Saint Cloud. The 
first outbreak of the epidemic had been overwhelm- 
ing, but afterwards the virulence of the disease 
seemed to diminish somewhat. Towards the middle 
of October, however, a return of the terrible nq^lady 
caused a general panic. Everybody who could left 
Paris and the hospitals were full of the sick. The 
working population especially suffered. On Oc- 
tober 21st the Emperor went to Paris, accompanied 
by General Reille, his aide-de-camp, and an orderly 
officer. He \isited the hospital of the Hotel Dieu, 
spoke with the doctors, walked through the wards 
and cheered up the sufferers. On leaving the hos- 
pital, he gave a sum of fifty thousand francs, to' 
succor the cholera victims. This brave visit re- 
minded many of what his great uncle had done in the 
similarly affected hospitals of Cairo during the fa- 
mous expedition to Egypt. Such comparisons al- 
ways pleased Napoleon III. 

The Empress did not accompany the Emperor on 
this occasion, because he gave orders that she should 
not be informed of this proposed visit to the Hotel 
Dieu, as she was suffering from a bad attack of in- 
fluenza. But on her recovery, the Empress ex- 
pressed an ardent desire to visit in her turn the 
cholera-stricken people. The moral effect produced 
by the Emperor’s act had been so excellent that it 
was finally decided that the Empress should also go 
up to Paris. Etiquette would not let her go alone. 
But the ever-thoughtful Emperor told Mile. Bouvet, 
her lady in waiting, that he allowed her to accom- 
pany the Empress only on condition that she should 
not enter the hospital, but remain in the carriage. 

450 



EECOLLECTION AND RETEOSPECTION 


Mile. Bouvet was obliged to make this promise, al- 
though she did so with the greatest reluctance, as 
Eugenie well knew; and this boimd them together 
more closely than ever. 

Eugi4ni0 left Saint Cloud accompanied by her 
eqi;^erry, Marquis de la Grange, Mile. Bouvet and 
Major Dupre, orderly officer to the Emperor. 

Her first visit was to the Beaujon hospital, to the 
wards occupied by the cholera patients. She tar- 
ried at their bedsides, talked with them one by one, 
and tried to comfort and encourage them by word 
and manner. Her conduct was much praised then 
and since, but the Empress never felt that she had 
done anything more than her plain duty. 

From the Beaujon hospital Eugenie went to the 
Tuileries for lunch and afterwards visited the Lari- 
boisiere and Saint Antoine hospitals. 

A pathetic scene took place during the visit to the 
Beaujon hospital which the Emperor used to love 
to relate, and so I may be excused, perhaps, for giv- 
ing it here in his own words. “The Empress,” he 
wrote to a friend, “approaching the bedside of a 
dying man, bent over him, took his hand in hers 
and uttered a few words of comfort. The man 
kissed the hand which held his own, saying, ‘ Thank 
you. Sister.’ ‘You are mistaken, my friend,’ said 
the nun who was conducting the Empress through 
the wards, ‘I did not speak to you, it was our good 
Empress.’ ‘Nay, do not correct him. Sister,’ an- 
swered the Empress; ‘he could not give me a nobler 
title than that of Sister.’ ” 

At the Saint Antoine hospital, the doctor who pre- 
ceded Eugenie opened, by mistake, a door leading 
into the ward where the small-pox patients were 

451 



MEMOIRS 01’ THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


lying. He instantly closed it again, desirous of pre- 
venting her from entering. “But she entered, how- 
ever,” says the Emperor in the letter already 
quoted, “though she forbade her lady in waiting to 
cross the threshold. But the Empress does not take 
any very great credit for this act. She went t<^the 
hospitals to aid in preventing the panic which had 
seized upon the public, and was simply carrying out 
a pre-arranged program. It is quite true, as the 
journals report, that on leaving the hospital, the 
Empress was literally carried to her carriage by the 
crowd who enthusiastically pressed around her. 
Blessings and praises were showered upon her by 
the women who had clustered about, and who even 
cut pieces out of her gown to preserve as relics.” 

Even the most careless student of the more spirit- 
ual side of the Court of the Second Empire — for it 
had such a side, notwithstanding what its detractors 
have said — ^must have remarked that the Emperor, 
and the Empress, perhaps to a less degree, had a 
cult for certain great historical characters and 
events of the past. Napoleon III used to say: “It 
is not enough for a sovereign to read and study his- 
tory, and especially the history of his own land. He 
must worship his country’s heroes, believe in them 
and never let an occasion slip to impress their great- 
ness on the present generation. We sit on a throne, 
not only to govern, but to teach.” By association 
with her noble-minded consort, this same spirit grew 
in the Empress and with the years she became more 
and more enraptured of the famous men and 
women of France. “I am glad to see the progress 
you. are making in this respect,” the Emperor once 
said to the Empress; “you will end by becoming a 

452 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 


greater hero-worshiper than I — this is possible!” 

For example, the Empress always had a great 
veneration for Marie Antoinette. She was early 
much moved by the misfortunes of the ill-fated 
Queen and was often haunted by the memory of her. 
Eugenie loved everything which reminded her of 
Marie Antoinette, whether artistic treasures, cos- 
tumes, pictures, or books. Immediately after her 
marriage, when she was spending her honeymoon 
at Villeneuve de I’Etang, in the neighborhood of 
Versailles, she asked the Emperor to take her to 
that interesting, sleepy old town, and especially to 
the Trianon. Eugenie then visited for the first time 
the small palace and the gardens which the Queen 
so greatly loved, and henceforth she began to have 
collected for her own use minute details concerning 
the life of Marie Antoinette at the time when the lat- 
ter was the center of a kingdom’s love and adulation. 

The visit to the Trianon was not merely homage 
paid to the memory of the unfortunate Queen, but 
a sort of pilgrimage, a kind of public act of repara- 
tion on the part of a bride who had just mounted a 
throne. Later on Eugenie made several efforts to 
revive in the public mind memory of the Queen. 
Everything concerning her was collected with the 
greatest care. Memoirs of her times were read with 
avidity, the slightest incidents were noted, the small- 
est objects were looked upon as sacred relies and a 
sort of museum of Marie Antoinette’s effects was 
gradually brought together at the Trianon. Bit by 
bit many articles of furniture and other objects 
which once belonged to her were accumulated; the 
walls were hung with pictures, among which could 
be seen the curious painting in which she was rep- 

453 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 

resented dancing a ballet with her brothers at 
Schoenbrunn, during the festivities which were 
given at the time of Joseph II ’s marriage ; and there 
was a square table decorated with bronze chiseled 
as delicately as any jewelry, which had been made 
specially for the Queen. r 

Having thus contributed to the reorganization of 
the Petit Trianon collections, the Empress thought 
it might be a good idea to add to the International 
Exhibition of 1867 the attraction of a display of 
all objects which had once belonged to the Queen 
and which should be brought together from private 
collections and museums. In fact, under her patron- 
age a committee was formed with the object of re- 
storing Malmaison and the Petit Trianon exactly 
as they were originally. In recent years this was 
brought about in a most admirable manner as re- 
gards Malmaison, through the generosity of the late 
M. Osiris of Paris. 

These efforts were very successful. The King of 
Sweden sent to Paris the portrait of Marie Antoi- 
nette holding her two children by the hand and walk- 
ing in the alleys of the Trianon. Gustavus III 
wished to have a good likeness of the Queen, and this 
was said to be very striking as a portrait. The 
Marquis of Hertford lent many things from his Lon- 
don collections: works of art, furniture, and miai- 
atures which had belonged to Marie Antoinette or 
which were in some way connected with her. Among 
the objects lent by the Empress, one of the most re- 
markable was an album in which were gu mm ed sam- 
ples of the materials of which the Queen’s gowns 
were made. Eugenie learned from the descendants 
of those who had been of the court circle of the old 

454 



RECOLLECTION AND RETROSPECTION 


regime that this album — of which, by the way, there 
were several copies — ^was each morning handed to 
Marie Antoinette who, by pointing out one of the 
gummed samples, indicated the dress which she in- 
tended to wear that daj'^, and thus Mme. Bertin’s 
orders were greatly simplified. 

Th® Empress owned several other interesting ob- 
jects which had belonged to the King and Queen, and 
among them, several portraits. There were a snuff- 
box with a portrait of Marie Antoinette by Sicardy; 
a cornelian ring engraved with a head of Henry IV, 
which Louis XVI, on the morning of his death, gave 
to Father Edgeworth; the plain penknife w’hioh 
Louis XVI used at the Temple, and, by contrast, a 
very handsome knife, enriched with rubies and Cot- 
taux enamels, with a gold blade, a marvel in jewelry, 
which had belonged to the unlucky King also; a 
bracelet-locket, bearing the King’s profile in relief, 
which the Queen had often worn ; marble, terracotta 
and Sevres busts; an enormous traveling bag of 
guipures, embroidered in sOk and gold; books on 
which were engraved Marie Antoinette’s arms; sev- 
eral letters signed by her, and many other things. 

As a rule, the Empress kept all these relics, the 
authenticity of which was guaranteed by the most 
competent authorities, in her private apartments at 
the Tuileries. But during the Exhibition, they were 
displayed at the Trianon. 

At Saint Cloud, too, were many evidences of Eu- 
genie’s regard for Marie Antoinette. Her apart- 
ments there were decorated with portraits of the 
Queen, of Madame Royale, and of the Dauphin. In 
her cabinet was the celebrated writing desk which 
had belonged to Marie Antoinette, elegantly deeo- 

455 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

rated with two bronze gilt statuettes representing 
ehinaeras whose bodies, twisted in graceful fashion, 
followed the sinuosities of the wood. This desk, 
which was made specially for the Queen, has al- 
ways been regarded as one of the most remarkable 
examples of the cabinet-maker’s art. At the time 
of their marriage, the Emperor presented the** Em- 
press with two magnificent earrings, representing 
two pears, made of diamonds, as long as a large al- 
mond, and surmounted by two large stones. These, 
too, once belonged to the Queen. 

Among the most prized of these Marie Antoinette 
souvenirs was a gift from Princess Metternich, wife 
of the Austrian ambassador in Paris — a strange 
portrait which she had brought with her from Aus- 
tria. The Dauphine is represented shortly before 
her marriage, at the age of fourteen, with a narrow 
red riband, which looked like a thin streak of blood, 
encircling her neck. One was painfully impressed 
by this characteristic of it. 

Towards the close of the Empire, a prayer-book 
which had belonged to Marie Antoinette when in 
the Temple was secured for the Empress at a fa- 
mous sale. But when she learned later, that the 
Comte de Chambord was among the bidders for the 
book, she sent it to him through a friend, and he 
accepted the gift in the most courteous terms. It 
was a rule with Napoleon III always to treat with 
the greatest deference the princes of the old regime 
and- Eugenie ever strove to second the Emperor’s 
efforts in this respect. 

Among the books exhibited at the Trianon were 
two volumes which had belonged to Marie Antoi- 
nette, entitled Traite de VOraison de la Meditation. 

456 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 


They were bound in blue morocco, and bore the 
arms of the Dauphine Marie- Josephe de Saxe. On 
the first page were written the words: “These 
books belonged to my mother-in-law. Marie An- 
toinette. ’ ’ The Empress took them with her to Eng- 
land, and kept them carefully until the year after 
the death of the Prince Imperial, when, before set- 
ting out on the journey to the Cape, in order to visit 
the spot where her unfortunate son had died, and 
filled with dark forebodings, she decided to give the 
precious books to some one who would fully appre- 
ciate them. The Empress had formerly known the 
Due de Doudeauville, head of the royalist party, and 
to him she sent the volumes, which can now be seen in 
a glass case in the center of the grand salon of this 
nobleman’s superb Paris mansion. 

As has already been seen, the Empress always 
took much interest in works of charity, and the or- 
ganization which has been specially dear to her is 
the Maternal Society, founded by Queen Marie An- 
toinette. This excellent institution is still in exist- 
ence under the presidency of the Duchesse de 
Mouchy, one of Eugenie’s closest friends. 

Now a few words about another bent of Eugenie’s. 
I refer to her love for travel. I admit that she was 
never so happy as when visiting foreign lands, see- 
ing cities where she had never been before and even 
sailing over the seas, ever changing and ever new. 
Walking or driving through unexplored quarters 
of a favorite city, such as Paris, for instance, had 
a charm for the Empress of which she never wearied; 
and this taste seemed to grow with the years. 

After the death of the Emperor, the Empress 
spent a large portion of almost every year on the 

457 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


Continent. She was accustomed to make more or 
less prolonged visits to Paris, always choosing the 
Hotel Continental as her temporary abiding place.^ 

Franceseliiiii Pietri, so long and so intimately connected with 
the Imperial family, beginning with the Emperor in the Italian cam- 
paign as secretary, and continuing with the Empress as secretary and 
confidant says on this point: ^‘In some quarters surprise w^ts ex- 
pressed at her choice of this hotel, situated as it is right opposite 
the Tuileries, which must have awakened so many unhappy souvenirs 
of the fallen Empire. The Empress used to gaze for long minutes 
at a time on the ruins of the Tuileries, before they were razed to 
the ground just before the World’s Fair of 1878. She would walk 
and sit for hours in the former ‘reserved garden,’ which now borders 
the Eue des Tuileries and is open to the public, but which in those 
days was the private garden of the palace. Then would tears come 
frequently into her eyes and there was always anguish in her heart. 
It would seem that such constant dwelling on painful memories 
would produce but pain, so keen that it would be hard to bear. On 
several occasions the Empress explained to me and to others her rea- 
son for this strange indulgence. ‘My always stopping at the Con- 
tinental,’ she would say, ‘is due to a sort of attraction born of the 
sufferings I had experienced in that part of the great city. I will 
admit that on the first occasion when I came back there after Napo- 
leon’s death, and especially after the death of the Prince Imperial, 
the effect on me was very dolorous. Then, little by little, the sorrow 
became more poetical in its nature and easier to endure, until it 
grew to be a real source of consolation to me to live over again 
those bright and cruel days in almost the very same surroundings. 
I have always liked to revisit spots where I have spent happy years. 
The cherished memories of persons and events would then ever come 
back more clearly and vividly.’ Thus, the Empress, more than once 
during our frequent sojourns in Paris, went out to Compi^gne, to 
Fontainebleau and to Saint Cloud, the demolishing of whose ruins 
caused her such deep anguish. She loved to stroll again through 
those leafy alleys and in those shady groves, where she used to pass 
the warm summer days with her Court. She found a sad comfort in 
sitting in the garden at Saint Cloud where the Prince Imperial as 
a child was accustomed to play with his boy companions. On these 
occasions she wished to be alone and her solitude was religiously re- 
spected. Sometimes these communions with the past would last for 
an hour or more. During one of these visits to that sacred spot so 
closely associated with the memory of her beloved gouj she was 



EECOLLECTION AND EETROSPECTION 


The reason for Eugenie’s long stay in Paris in 
the year 1904, was the protracted illness of her niece, 

threading her way through a narrow path bordered with brambles, 
one of which caught her dress so firmly that she had to stop. It 
seemed to the Empress that this bramble was filling the office of 
some unseen hand, and this little incident quite upset her, so that 
she ^turned to us who were waiting at a distance — ^we always left 
her alone at these times — in a very agitated state, and sobbing, told 
us what had happened. 

^ ^ In 1904, the Empress stayed longer than usual at the Hotel Con- 
tinental. It was at the moment when the Princess Mathilde died. 
During the closing years of the latter ^s life, the two cousins met 
frequently. With the passing years, the death of the Prince Napo- 
leon and with the philosophy which comes with age, all of the little 
hostilities and petty differences of opinion which once marred some- 
what their intercourse, gradually disappeared and left behind an 
affectionate friendship. Now long conversations would take place 
between the two Princesses and they finally became very intimate. 
At Princess Mathilde 's deathbed, the Empress was all tenderness. 
Though she knew of the character of the will which the Princess 
was leaving behind and which disinherited Prince Victor in favor 
of his brother Louis, at no time, and especially in these closing 
months, did the Empress touch upon this subject with her cousin, 
particularly as she felt this unfortunate feature of her testament 
to be due to the influence which her brother, Prince Napoleon, had 
over her who had quarreled with his son. The general public was 
much surprised at this clause of the will, but rightfully interpreted 
it to mean that, as the Empress had chosen Prince Victor as heir to 
a great part of her property, it was but just that Princess Mathilde 
should regard the future of Prince Louis. But no real understand- 
ing of this kind had ever been come to by the Empress and Princess. 
What the Empress desired to do for Prince Victor, as heir to the 
Empire and in accordance with the wishes of the Prince Imperial 
expressed in his testament, in no way bound Princess Mathilde. 
As during the last two years of her life, the Princess was more 
friendly to Prince Victor, it was supposed that she had altered her 
will. But such was not the case, and the result was that her large 
fortune, added to the modest sum left him by his father, made General 
Louis Napoleon the possessor of nearly seven million of francs, 
whereas his brother, who has all the expenses to keep up entailed 
by being the recognized head of a former reigning family, enjoys 
but the modest income allowed him by the Empress — some eighty 
thousand francs annually.'^ 


459 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EIJOENIE 

the Duchesse d’Albe, who died that year. This was 
a great sorrow for her. The Duchess was as intelli- 
gent as she was beautiful, was very well educated 
and had acquired an erudition that was rare in a 
woman. The Empress used to tell how “this 
scholarly niece,” as she would call her with p:^de, 
had supervised the drawing up of a catalogue of 
all the marvels of art contained in the palace of 
Liria at Madrid, that had come down from the Ber- 
wicks and the Albes. The Duchess was much ad- 
mired both at the Spanish capital and at Paris, 
where she had become very well known during the 
time her father was Spanish ambassador to France. 

I have already spoken of Eugenie’s relations with 
ex-Queen Isabella. The Empress never passed 
through Paris without seeing her. The unfortunate 
Queen never forgot the kind refuge offered her by 
“the then powerful French sovereign,” as she used 
to say, when she fell from power in Spain, during 
the sixties. But what bound Eugenie particularly 
close to Isabella was the fact that the Queen’s son, 
who became later Alphonso XII, was, when Prince 
of the Asturias, a playmate of the Prince Imperial, 
both at Saint Cloud and at the Tuileries, as is men- 
tioned elsewhere in these memoirs. 

The Empress always enjoyed the society of dis- 
tinguished Spaniards and when she was in Paris, 
she met a large number of them, the Spanish am- 
bassador being particularly amiable. The Grand 
Dukes of Eussia, who also stop at the Hotel Conti- 
nental, were also frequently seen in her small circle. 

The favorite hour for receiving her Paris friends 
was between nine and twelve in the evening. The 
conversation on those occasions was very general, 

460 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 


especially toucMng on the question of the hour, 
whether political, artistic or a purely social topic. 
The latest book of note was also frequently dis- 
cussed and judged. Burning political questions 
were tabooed. The Empress was quite ready to let 
eveij^body have their own opinions, but she did not 
care to give up her own. The Empress consequently 
abhorred political discussions. In fact, she would 
not permit them in her presence. For instance, at 
the time of the Dreyfus affair, it was agreed by her 
friends to mention it as little as possible before her. 
Living in England during that tragedy, I admit that 
she was biassed in favor of the unfortunate captain 
and felt that the case against him had not been 
proven, in which respect she differed from nearly 
all of her friends of her own political party. 

A devout Catholic, her feelings were deeply 
wounded by all the legislation concerning the sepa- 
ration of the Church and State in France. In this 
connection, the Empress was prone to dwell on the 
religious liberty enjoyed in England as compared 
with France, and the establishment, during the clos- 
ing years of her life, of the good understanding be- 
tween England and France was very pleasing to 
her. 

The Empress never took a wholly pessimistic view 
of the condition of France. She was convinced that 
the great industrial vitality of the country and its 
widely diffused wealth would save it where other 
nations might go down to ruin. Politically, she did 
not think the restoration of the Empire to be in the 
immediate future. She was never in favor of aiding 
Prince Victor in trying to conquer his rights. With 
the death of the Prince Imperial and the loss of th© 

461 



MF,MOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

popularity wMcli once surrounded the Empire, Eu- 
genie did not believe in the return of the Empire. 
The anti-military spirit which pervades the coun- 
try and the religious and political scepticism which 
are so rife, seem to her to bode no good to France. 
In her declining years, politics were interesting to 
her for their information and not for their theories. 
After her long and cruel experiences politics could 
not he expected to interest Eugenie otherwise. 

The larger portion of her sojourn on the Conti- 
nent was not spent at Paris but at her comfortable 
home on Cap Martin, in the neighborhood of Nice. 
There the Empress received many persons whom 
she had never known at the Tuileries, in her charm- 
ing Villa Cyrnos, wliieh was built in 1891, and where 
she resided generally from January to June. Her 
course of life there was one of marked seclusion, hav- 
ing nothing to do with the social world of the favor- 
ite winter resorts of the Mediterranean coast. But 
many of the great personages who come to this part 
of France for sunshine and health amiably pay their 
respects to her. One of the most notable of these 
visits was that paid by the Emperor of Austria, in 
1905. She returned it the following year while the 
aged monarch was at Ischl. The Empress wrote as 
follows in a letter to a friend concerning this visit : 
“It lasted two days, and we talked over all the 
happy and unhappy events of our lives during the 
past years. When I said good-by to the Emperor, 
I remarked: ‘Now, sire, we shall not meet again 
u n til we are in the other world.’ We were both 
much affected.” 

The Empress always liked the sea, as I have al- 
ready said, and she was accustomed to make voy- 

463 



EECOLLECTION AND EETROSPECTION 

ages now and then on her yacht. On one of these 
voyages she had a memorable meeting at Corfu, 
with the Empress of Austria, shortly after the mys- 
terious death of the Archduke Rudolph, and curious- 
ly enough, the Austrian Empress gave Eugenie all 
the (Retails of this terrible tragedy. Eugenie was 
so much affected by the narration that she wrote it 
down immediately afterwards, during her voyage. 
The story as told by the Empress, which can be 
given with propriety, was as follows : 

“There are several versions concerning his death. 
According to some, the prince was killed during a 
copious supper by a jealous rival; according to 
others, his death was due to a hunting accident, 
while suicide and murder have both been advanced 
to explain the sad event. We knew that he had a 
very intimate liaison with a young lady, Baroness 
Vetzera, daughter of one of the Baltazzi family. 
The Emperor was much worried by the complaints 
made by the Archduchess Stephanie, which he knew 
to be justified, and he did what he could to put an 
end to this unfortunate situation. The Archduke 
was romantic and quick-tempered, and at one time 
we feared that he might have his marriage annulled 
so as to be able to marry Baroness Vetzera. I am 
sorry to say that some persons, fond of intrigues, 
sided with my son in favor of such a union, but of 
course the Emperor, myself and the whole court 
circle did what we could to prevent it. More than 
once I pleaded with my son, but in vain. Just when 
we began to hope that the Archduke was coming 
around to reason, the tragedy happened. On Janu- 
ary 29, 1889, there was a grand dinner at the Hof- 
burg in honor of the Archduchess Valerie and her 

463 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 


betrothed, the Archduke Salvator. Rudolph had 
promised to be present, but at the last moment tele- 
graphed that he was so fatigued by the hunt that he 
would return to town only on the following day. 
He was at Meyerling with a hunting party, which 
included Baroness Vetzera. Did her cousin, ^Bal- 
tazzi, who wished to marry her, suddenly appear on 
the scene and provoke a quarrel with the Archduke, 
which ended fatally for him? This is the opinion 
held in some quarters. The guests were all warmed 
with wine. This is certain. In a thoughtless mo- 
ment did the Archduke kill himself and his sweet- 
heart?” 

It seems to me that this account places the Prince 
in a much better light than those sometimes given, 
which is my reason for transcribing it here. 

"When not traveling, the Empress divided her 
time between her Cap Martin home, just mentioned, 
and her English residence at Farnborough, in 
Hampshire, whither she retired shortly after the 
death of the Prince Imperial. Farnborough HiU is 
situated an hour’s journey by rail from London, in 
a smiling, wooded country, broken by hills and val- 
leys, rather wild to the view, with long stretches 
of moorland and pines. Here the Empress found a 
pleasant abiding place, congenial to her heart and 
mind. Camden Place House was associated with 
such sad memories that she was glad to quit it and 
to transfer her dead to her new abode. The Em- 
peror and the Prince Imperial were given only a 
temporary resting-place in Chislehurst church. Op- 
posite Farnborough, on another hill, at the end of 
the park, the Empress erected a Gothic chapel in 
Portland stone, surmounting a crypt. The French 

464 



EECOLLEOTION AND EETBOSPECTION 

architect, Detailleur, who was charged with the 
building of this little edifice, completed it in three 
years, with great taste and with much respect for 
pure art. Soberness of design is its most predomi- 
nant feature. The front and interior are both free 
from all ornament. The walls of the nave are snowy 
whfte, and the pews and pulpits are in carved oak. 
Underneath, lies the cr5Tpt, which extends the whole 
length of the chapel. There rest the two sarcophagi 
of the Emperor and the Prince Imperial in the sim- 
ple grandeur of solid granite. On the one, between 
the two dates, are cut the words: “Napoleon III, 
Emperor of the French”; on the other: “Napo- 
leon, Prince Imperial, Born at the Tuileries, killed 
by the Enemy in Zululand.” Many different in- 
scriptions had been suggested and even written out 
for her, but the Empress preferred these few lines. 
History knows the rest. The sanctuary is filled with 
wreaths, princely tributes or offerings of humbler 
origin. I always, when I visit this sacred spot, 
read with the same old interest- this inscription on 
the wreath sent by the late King of Sweden at the 
time of the Emperor’s death: “Bomarsund. In 
Memory of the Aid sent in 1855, when a Fleet to 
defend Sweden was dispatched to the Baltic.” 

This homage to the dead is not the only memory 
that is kept green at Farnborough. There are sev- 
eral reminders of old friends or faithful servants, 
among the dead or stiU among the living. For in- 
stance, in the park is the cottage in which Ullmann 
lived until his death a few years ago. He was, as 
is stated in an earlier portion of this narrative, the 
Prince Imperial’s devoted valet. Often during Eu- 
genie’s walks in the park would she stop to have 

465 



MEMOIRS OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

a short conversation with this excellent man-serv- 
ant, who loved to recall the memories of her dear 
son’s youth and of his young manhood, and who now 
and then would throw some fresh ray of light on 
that dark tragedy of Zululand. 

Pamborough House is built, like so many other 
mansions in England, with a Norman roof, lasge 
bow windows and spacious verandas. The large 
dining-room and the glass-covered gallery leading 
to it were constructed by Eugenie. Besides the usual 
stables of a country-house, there is in the grounds 
a carnage-house, which always interests visitors, 
as it contains the semi-gala coaches which were re- 
turned to the Empress after the war. The grounds 
immediately surrounding the dwelling are laid out 
in French style and at the foot of the hill are masses 
of rhododendrons. All out-door growing things are 
green and vigorous, as is always the case in the 
damp English climate. 

The ground floor of the house is full of memen- 
toes of all kinds, largely relies of the Imperial days 
returned to her after the war. The study, where 
the Empress spent a large part of the day, for she 
generally went out, when she was at Famborough, 
only beWeen twelve and one, is replete with sou- 
venirs of her son. There are many portraits of 
him and Carpeaux’s bust, which faces Flandrin’s 
portrait of the Emperor. Both are good likenesses, 
I think, though this is not the opinion of all. The 
room also contains many articles which belonged to 
the Prince and the Emperor. Some of these are 
souvenirs of the Duchesse d’Albe, who was ever 
so dear to the Empress. 

But the room in the house which the Empress 

466 



RECOLLECTION AND RETROSPECTION 


cherished the most and which she spent many hours 
in arranging is the Prince Imperial’s study, in which 
the poor hoy of course never put foot, but where she 
sometimes felt he was very near to her. His books, 
maps, and manj’- of his shooting paraphernalia, as 
well as the w^oapons which were with him in real 
war,* are here brought together and carefully pre- 
served. In front of the window is a bust of Napo- 
leon I, by Canova. There are several busts and 
portraits of Napoleon III, of dead friends or rela- 
tives — ^Abbe Deguerry, Comte Clary, and others — 
and especially three pictures by Protais, which the 
Empress particularly cherished. One represents 
the first skirmish in which the Prince Imperial dis- 
tinguished himself, while the two others are repre- 
sentations of his last moments on earth, in his heroic 
struggle with death. In the one, he is in a standing 
position, determined to sell his life dearly; in the 
second, he is lying dead, the noble boy, pierced by 
the treacherous shafts. In a cloud, at the top of this 
canvas, lit up by a ray of light, are three symbols : 
Notre Dame, the Vendome Column and the Hotel 
des Invalides. They stand for baptism, the field of 
glory and the last resting-place of us all. The Em- 
press passed many long hours in this shrine, buried 
in thoughts which I cannot put down here. 

The other rooms of Farnborough also contain 
many interesting things. There are, for instance, 
mementoes of the Prince in the square drawing- 
room, where the Empress generally passed her eve- 
nings, and in the little boudoirs, whose walls are 
covered with pictures recalling the life of her be- 
loved son. In the middle of the gallery already men- 
tioned is the portrait of the Prince by Cannon, 

467 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


wMcli was painted at Vienna under her direct su- 
pervision. It is a magnificent picture and imme- 
diately attracts the attention of everybody who 
passes it. Other pictures or artistic objects are 
thickly scattered throughout the house. Some of 
them were saved by Prince Metternich during the 
disaster of September 4th, at Paris. Others •were 
returned to the Empress at the request of several 
important persons, among whom I should mention 
Comtesse Edmond de Pourtales who obtained the 
consent of M. Thiers to this honorable action. Some 
of these objects came from the Biarritz villa, when 
the Empress sold it. These are chiefly Gobelin tap- 
estries which were in the dining-room and which de- 
pict the hfe of Don Quixote. These now hang in 
the gallery and dining-room of Farnborough. In 
the library are found albums, various souvenirs of 
travel, gifts from sovereigns and presents from 
well-knovm individuals or public bodies. It was 
always a pleasure to show friends and visitors all 
these varied objects and explain their origin and 
give their history. The Emperor used to say to the 
Empress at the Tuileries, when she was pointing 
out the many valuable artistic bibelots and treasures 
which filled that once beautiful palace: “Eugenie, 
what a fine cicerone you would have made!” And 
more than once at Farnborough the memory of this 
remark rushed back to her. 

The Empress’ long residence in England has al- 
ways been cheered by the many kind attentions of 
the Eoyal family. The late Queen Victoria and the 
Princesses were the very spirit of Christian charity, 
in their love for her. They often came to her and 
she returned their visits with deep pleasure. There 

468 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 


was something indescribable about Her Majesty. 
While always remaining a great Queen, with all the 
restraint demanded by her position, there was about 
her at the same time a simplicity and an expansive 
interest in your personal troubles and trials that 
made you quite forget, for the moment, the lofty 
position of the kindly caller and fiiend. When 
Queen Victoria made a visit of condolence, you im- 
mediately perceived that there was nothing perfunc- 
tory about it and that she really felt more than she 
could express. The Empress had occasion to ex- 
perience this agreeable fact on several occasions. 
Some persons, even in exalted quarters, have de- 
clared that the Queen was cold and distant. This 
may have been so under ordinary circumstances and 
with those towards whom there was no reason why 
she should be otherwise than cold and distant. It 
is highly probable that the Queen did not care to 
lavish affection and show warmth where these senti- 
ments were not called for. But into Eugenie's sor- 
rows she penetrated with a sincerity that gave the 
greatest comfort. At one time, the Empress used 
to go in the autumn to Abergeldie, near Balmoral, 
in Scotland, and there she was able to judge the 
Queen still more thoroughly, for there was less for- 
mality observed by the Court in that wild region. 
They made excursions together, and the conversa- 
tion then turning on all topics, the Empress was in 
a position to measure not only the affections but 
the mental strength of Her Majesty. She never re- 
turned from one of those memorable outings with- 
out finding that the mind and character of the Queen 
had risen higher in her estimation. I am sure that 
I do not go too far when I say that, take her all in 



MEMOIES OF THE EMPRESS EUGENIE 

all, tlie Empress considered lier as one of tlie most 
remarkable women of any age and any land. I feel 
sure that history is going to place her very high 
in the list of great Queens, and if the splendid Vic- 
torian Age remains, as I believe it will, one of the 
grandest pages in the history of Great Britain, this 
will be largely due to the ability and virtues of 
Queen Victoria. 

In closing this portion of the memoirs, let me 
touch briefly on an incident which, while not very 
interesting, is characteristic of the fate which at- 
tends the fallen rulers of Prance. During nearly 
thirty years a suit was pending between the Em- 
press and the State. But at length, in the spring 
of 1907, the Empress won her case. When the Em- 
pire fell, the State seized certain things belonging 
to the Imperial family found at the Tuileries and in 
other State palaces, which the Imperial family had 
inhabited. Certain of these objects found their way 
to the collections in the Louvre. Five hundred and 
thirty-eight articles were, after the ending of this 
suit, returned to the Empress. But in this long hst 
are many things which have not the slightest intrin- 
sic value. 

This interminably long suit was begun under the 
government of M. Thiers, back in the seventies. 
Both parties made concessions in order to bring it 
to a close. M. Thiers held that the State should keep 
all objects of real historical importance, though 
some friends got M. Thiers to return to the Em- 
press, without waiting for the decision of the case 
before the courts, certain personal articles, includ- 
ing some carriages which the State could not util- 
ize ; but she gave in exchange several valuable pic- 

470 



EECOLLECTION AND EETEOSPECTION 


tures by David, Meissonier, Cabanel and other great 
artists, though these canvases had been bought with 
the Emperor’s private money. 

In February, 1879, a decision of the courts made 
the first important step towards the setthng up of 
this disagreeable business. The list of thmgs which 
the^tate decided to hold and another list of those 
which the State was ready to abandon was officially 
drawn up. The result was that the State recognized 
its indebtedness to the Empress of over two and a 
quarter million of francs, with interest extending 
over a certain term of years. But her legal ad- 
visers did not consider this account correct and held 
that the State owed their client at least two millions 
more. And there the matter stood for twenty years. 
In January, 1899, the courts again took up the sub- 
ject and the pecuniary side of the dispute was set- 
tled, the Empress abandoning her claim for the two 
millions above stated, while the State was ordered 
by the court to pay over to her the two millions and 
a quarter, with interest, as also stated above. The 
registration of this judgment cost her nearly eight- 
een thousand francs, but the decision of the court 
remained a dead letter, for the debtor happened to 
be the State. The Empress hoped at least, to get 
back the pictures, portraits and certain other ob- 
jects, which were of no public interest and which 
the judgment of 1879 had made hers. The State 
agreed to have the list drawn up but informed the 
Empress that this would consume much time. In 
order to hasten matters and show as conciliatory a 
spirit as possible, she made still another sacrifice 
to the State, and abandoned the interest on the two 
million and a quarter given her by the courts. 

471 



MEMOIKS OF THE EMPEESS EUGENIE 


Whereupon, the State was again ordered judicially, 
in November, 1899, to settle up this affair. The Em- 
press knew that the inventories had been burned in 
the Commune and other troubles of 1870 and 1871, 
and had not been reestablished with perfect exacti- 
tude afterwards. So there was some excuse forjihis 
slowness. But she finally grew heartily weary of 
this long delay, especially as she had sacrificed some 
four hundred thousand francs in this matter, in one 
form or another, mainly for the purpose of bringing 
it to an end. 

Some of the objects claimed by the Empress have 
a certain value, while others arc cherished simply 
for their associations. Among the latter are many 
of the objects which belonged to the “Sovereigns’ 
Museum” which was made up of gifts and loans. 
When this museum was broken up, these objects 
were returned to their owners, among whom were 
the Princess Mathilde, General Petit and the Mar- 
quis de Turenne. But the Empress was not treated 
in this same manner, notwithstanding the fact that 
the catalogue showed that these articles belonged 
to her by inheritance or were purchased with the 
Emperor’s private money, not one having been 
bought with funds belonging to the State. The main 
trouble was over a few objects in the Louvre Mu- 
seum, which were of some value and, in a few in- 
stances, of even considerable value. Two Gobelin 
tapestries and some Sevres porcelain were readily 
returned by the museums where they had been de- 
posited, the directors of those institutions admit- 
ting that they had no right to them. The Prince 
Imperial’s cradle, a fine .piece of work by Froment 
Meurice, offered by'ftie City of Paris on the oc- 



EECOLLECTION ANl) RETROSPECTION 

oasion of tlie Prince’s birth, as the reader has seen, 
was returned in this way. But later, at the moment 
of the World’s Fair of 1900, Prince Murat request- 
ed the Empress to lend it to the retrospective exhibi- 
tion which he was organizing at that time. This she 
readi^ did. But when the Fair ended, the City of 
Paris claimed the cradle. The Empress then gave it 
to the city collections at the Carnavalet Museum, ask- 
ing only that there be a ticket attached to it on which 
should be printed the words: “Griven by the Em- 
press,” but this request has never been granted. 

A friend of mine and a leading French jurist has 
made this comment on the shabby way in which the 
State has acted in this whole matter: “Just com- 
pare for an instant the fashion in which the State 
treated the Orleans Princes under like circum- 
stances. In 1872, Thiers practically gave them back 
everything. In fact, their personal property was 
never seized, and the landed estates which King 
Louis Philippe settled on his children, before he 
mounted the throne in 1830, was quite contrary to 
dynastic law, as they should have become Crown 
property. Yet the possessors were not disturbed. 
The claims of the Empress were perfectly good in 
law. Nobody denied this. But the various minis- 
ters of finance seemed afraid of public opinion and 
so would not carry out what the courts had 
ordered.” 


THE END OP VOL. I